3rd Tree Lawsuit Pending in East Hills;Architectural Review Board QuestionsTwo Builders Over Tree Issues
East Hills, 11/23/13 -- Environmental advocate Richard Brummel's 3rd legal attack on hometown East Hills' flawed environmental stewardship faltered when hit with an aggressive legal counter-attack by four hard-hitting 'real' lawyers including Nassau power-attorney Michael Sahn two weeks ago.       Our initial court filing to protect nine large healthy trees at 90 Fir Drive, including an extraordinary 100-foot-tall, 3-feet-wide Oak tree, received surprise support from NY Supreme Court Justice Arthur M. Diamond in Nassau early in October. He issued a two-week Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), and The Roslyn Times featured the story on their front page.       But when the Village and developer fired back with their seriously-flawed and deceitful legal "Answer" and testimony in a short hearing, the judge sided with them and lifted the order pending his final decision.       We have since filed an extensive and highly detailed "Reply" cataloging legal and factual flaws in the defense filings -- including an entirely missing portion of the meeting-tape they submitted. We also moved for an evidentiary hearing under CPLR Article 7804(e).       On the other hand, possibly in response to citizen outrage, the Village's Architectural Review Board ("ARB") showed surprising -- if provisional -- 'spine' at its most recent meeting last week, when it sharply questioned two separate developers on their tree-removal plans, including Robert Beer, whose prior application led to our lawsuit.       The Board voted to hold up for at least a month the demolition, tree-destruction, and re-development of 60 Crescent Lane -- about which we, and a nearby neighbor, strongly objected Here due to the plan to cut down numerous trees; and 103 Willow Gate, where Board officials sharply critiqued the developer's shaky argument about cutting down trees simply because their roots traveled above the soil.       The ARB also told the developer, Javid Zarabi, that his tree plans didn't even correspond to what they saw on the property.       The most rabidly pro-development member of the ARB, developer and resident Steven Krieger, was absent from the meeting and might have been separated and replaced quietly, as can happen in East Hills government.       But very sadly, the new owner of 90 Fir Drive, self-described Morgan Stanley-VP Bradley Marks, went ahead despite the pending legal action and opposition from one long-time across-the-street neighbor and cut down what appear to be all trees approved by the ARB to make way for a huge 5,142 square foot new house.       The largest tree, a 40-inch oak, was approved by the ARB to be removed just to make way for a circular driveway.       Neighbors had objected to both the size of the house and the tree removals, but the ARB approved the package over strong verbal and written testimony.       According to one neighbor, Mayor Michael Koblenz said he was surprised at the size of one tree approved for removal. Both a neighbor and activist Richard Brummel received hostile and/or threatening phone calls after the story appeared in the news.       The Roslyn News refused to cover the issue of the lawsuit, claiming they have covered trees in East Hills enough. They even refused to print a letter to the editor. Newsday likewise has blackballed activist Richard Brummel from its pages, along with issues he has been promoting in East Hills and elsewhere -- including rallying environmentalists to protect a forest in North Hills from development, and unearthing plans to kill Canada geese across Long Island last summer.       We are cautious about the outcome of the pending legal case, but we will try again to organize Village residents -- and students -- to protect the environment that remains from the present highly-destructive over-development.       Again and again we encounter neighbors of proposed projects who strongly oppose the trend. The challenge is to organize people throughout the Village, as a political and grass-roots force. Please contact Richard Brummel at (516) 669-1741 to get involved.       The next court action is expected the week of November 25 or shortly after, when Justice Diamond may rule on our motion for the evidentiary hearing.