Documents and Photos for the
East Hills Architectural Review Board
Meeting of June, 2016

IF YOU AGREE ... in this age of Global Warming and species collapse, East Hills -- and elsewhere in our region -- needs far better environmental and ecological stewardship, please attend the hearings and/or provide me written testimony expressing your desire to preserve the trees and halt the over-building to: Richard Brummel (516) 238-1646, Email: rxbrummel [at] gmail [dot] com. Other assistance is also welcome. Thank you.

Documents for applications for 34 Pinewood Rd.

The developer application seeks permission to build a new house of 4,775 square feet. The application improperly omits the current dimensions and specs (height, etc.) of the house, but a neighbor told me his house was about half that size, so we can assume the current house is as well. The application -- by a developer -- also seeks to remove EIGHT trees, of which two are said to be unhealthy by the Village independent arborist. Two others are said to be in the 'footprint' of the new house -- an elective 'problem' that can be fixed by changing the house. This is what Village law seems to require, by mandating the "intent" that the Village is "to protect the tree canopy for current and future generations" (Section 186-1) -- but the Board does often not enforce these rules, deferring instead to the developers and new residents. Help fight for these trees, and the architectural integirty of the neighborhood by restricting construction of homes and changes in them to what is "in harmony" with the neighborhood and the site (Section 271-186).

Documents for applications for 30 Appletree Lane

A developer proposes a large new house of over 6,000 square feet that will double the coverage of the lot. No tree removals are proposed however -- although heavy construction always damages trees and often leads to their destruction several years later -- see the application for 37 Laurel Lane in this month's listings. The application improperly omits the current dimensions of the house in most categories so it is not possible to make comparisons and judge the scale in other areas. The board never enforces this requirement, however.

Documents for applications for 37 Laurel Lane

In a request with a hint of panic, a tenant seeks permission to remove numerous trees from a property where in 2012 the builder, Shomrim Hedvat, a busy presence in the Village, evidently fatally damaged a number of large trees that were not planned to be removed -- in addition to the very objectionable permission he did receive to destroy at least two other large Beech trees. This is an uncontroversial assertion: during the construction itself in 2012 a neighbor's beautiful Beech near the property line had to be cut down because the construction destroyed its roots. This past February 24th, one of the remaining trees -- a massive beautiful Beech -- snapped off at the base because it had rotted from inside -- most probably due to damage to its roots from construction. (Arborist Richard Oberlander as well as Richard Brummel, the author of this website, have repeatedly complained to the Village Board as well as the Architectural Review Board that new construction is damaging trees meant to be preserved because the current protocols are not working.) The tenant now seeks permission to virtually clear the property. The Village tree consultant has designated one tree in decline; unfortunately it is not clear whether this decline can be halted or reversed. No bore sampling of the trunk was evidently taken. The rest of the trees are designated healthy by the arborist. We will thus attempt to halt the process to await an opinion on whether the Beech that is is trouble can be salvaged by intervention -- for instance by deep-root feeding.

Documents for applications for 66 Flamingo Rd.

The applicant wishes to circumvent -- a year after the fact -- the requirement imposed to replace trees that were removed, at his request. We have previously urged the board not to undercut its own staff and laws post-facto -- whereby a resident is permitted to do something under specific conditions then wishes to renege after irrevocable acts occur. Beyond that issue the question arises as to how the permission occurred to destroy THREE adjacent Copper Beech trees that 'coincidentally' were all sick, upon authorization of only a building inspector who is as far as we are aware uncertified as any type of tree professional; the trees were evidently not examined by the Village arborist, nor considered in a public process by the ARB board. Only by coincidence does this permit come under public scrutiny; many others are given frequently by the 'tree warden' and many appear to be grossly unfounded -- see ---

Documents for applications for 16 Arbor Rd.

The independent arborist appears to favor preservation of the tree at issue instead of cutting it down to accommodate a new driveway. This is the type of issue the ARB should stand firm on, for the health of our community -- and as Pope Francis has stated, for the health of our planet. We need to adjust our wants and desires to accommodate and respect the needs of the other living creatures on this planet who depend on the Nature we so casually destroy. Every tree is home to animals and provides habitat -- food and shelter. Further the trees are fighting global warming 24/7. We need to preserve our trees and the Village code says so (Section 186-1 ff.). Clearly the driveway should come a distant second in the calculus. The board has heard before about driveways 'attacked' by tree roots and fortunately stood by the tree. Rarely are tree roots so damaging - it is generally the applicant homeowner who feels a few cracks are justification for irrevocably vandalizing the nature that predated their arrival by decades. And equally often the 'reasons' are merely pretexts, invented by those who simply fear trees or find them nuisances -- a position the Village tree law was supposed to prevent from damaging our community any longer.

Documents for applications for 74 Finch Dr.

This modest expansion specifies no changes to landscaping but it would be a matter of concen that the construction could actually occur at such extent without harming trees by the actions of heavy equipment or other actions. Assuming that issue is mitigated by clear and explicit standards going beyond what has been unfrtunately typical, this type of in-situ 'renovation' is far preferable -- in saving resources, in environmental impact, in noise and disruption -- to the more rampant demolitions.

Documents for applications for 210 Elm Dr.

There was no tree application as of Friday, June 3, 2016. The applicant wishes to build a new house -- a process that typically does destroy trees even without the active intent. The new house is proposed at TWO AND A HALF times the current house. The height is almost DOUBLE. The lot coverage is proposed to increase by 50%. The character of the surroundings will certainly be deeply changed -- far more dense, a result frowned on by Village Code Section 271-186 and 271-225. To its credit in this case the applicant supplied the current dimensions of the house -- data deliberately omitted routinely in these applications, and this meeting omitted from 30 Appletree and 34 Pinewood, as noted here. It is virtually inconceivable no trees will be removed, and while the house is very attractive, it is of a size that cannot be reasonably and responsibly sustained in this community while preserving its character, as provided by the Architectural Review law.

      The East Hills Village Code contains provisions to protect the local environment: to preserve the tree canopy (Section 186), to preserve the architectural harmony of the community (Section 271-185), and to halt the rampant demolitions and construction of large over-bearing new homes (Section 271-225). The Architectural Review Board (ARB) is the de-facto front-line environmental regulator of the Village. The Zoning Board of Appeals has a role but it hears far fewer cases, and does not deal with multiple demolitions and rebuildings, and propsed tree removals-by-the-dozen each month, as the ARB does. Anyone passing through East Hills will notice that the ARB has been failing in its environmental duties, voting in favor of the real-estate speculation that the Village administration now favors. But we have been trying hard to reverse this policy.

      In a reflection of the current gold-rush mentality in East Hills real estate, the ARB will hold not one but TWO sessions in September 2015 -- Wednesday and Thursday, September 9 and 10, at 8 PM in the courtroom. The Village currently refuses to post any documents from the applications being heard by ARB on its website -- DESPITE state law requiring that it make a good-faith effort to do so (Open Meeting Law: NY State Public Officers Law, Article 7, Section 103(e)).

      Therefore most residents are in the dark and have difficulty making sense of the vague letters they may receive about the proposal to rebuild a house nearby and/or "remove trees". The fact is, every month the ARB approves massive, ugly and inappropriate new houses and the destruction of dozens of healthy trees -- with no real oversight or public accountability. The Board is appointed in virtual secrecy with no open application process or public hearings on the nominees of the Mayor. The trustees are a rubber stamp. The media does not pay any attention.

      The ARB utterly fails to uphold the tree protection law or the architectural preservation law. Visits to streets like Poplar Drive and Birch Drive reveal the extremes of the current reckless over-development policy; and many other streets bear the ugly sterile imprint of the same trend of over-sized houses on denuded lots too small for the massive 5,000 to 6,000 square-foot homes being routinely approved. Animals are losing trheir shelter and sources of food, and this community is being degraded -- like so many others on Long Island. Conscientious people have resigned from the ARB, the most recent one quietly this winter.

      This month we are trying to improve the process by putting some documents online for residents to readily see in advance what is at stake. See below for photos and info-packet in PDF form.

      Please help me fight for our environment, trees and neighborhood character. I grew up here; I went to Roslyn High School and Yale. I fight for the environment throughout Nassau County. I need your help. Call me -- Richard Brummel -- at (516) 238-1646 to express your support and share your ideas, and attend the meetings generally the first Monday at 8 PM in Village Hall. Thanks.