Documents and Photos for the
East Hills Architectural Review Board
Meeting of May, 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 205 Elm Dr.

This application seeks permission to remove two large Oak trees and two large Maple trees because the resident wants to flatten their backyard -- a proposal that was already denied by the ARB in the past (see the letter). The letter makes reference to photo documentation that we believe was NOT present in the file last Thursday but will be sought again Monday prior to the meeting. The Village code (section 271-186 (a)(4)) specifically demands that houses respect the topography of the land they are built on -- in other words there is not supposed to be such grading' as is demanded. Furthermore the trees may be home wildlife -- raccoons -- that the homeowner wishes to prevent from entering their property. There also appeared to be no documentation for all the 'costs of drainage' alleged, nor other alternatives explored. This application will be extremely destructive if approved, yet is typical of what occurring in East Hills.

Documents for applications for 25 Hemlock Drive

A builder proposes to remove four large and ecologically important Beech trees -- three of four of which the Village independent arborist "Tree Health" proclaims perfectly healthy -- while constructing a new home of over 6,000 square feet and almost thirty feet in height. The builder Napoleon Development has received permission to build other homes in the area that have taken advantage of the laxness of ARB oversight. The ARB cannot be counted on to prevent this application without neighbor input. (Beech trees are a very fecund source of food for birds, squirrels and other local wildlife. They are also beautiful trees that enhance our community -- as well as providing shade fresh air etc,. that cannot be replicated for decades -- if at all -- by any new plantings as 'replacements'.

Documents for applications for 130 Poplar Drive

The Village independent consulting arborist notes that the land around the majestic 2 1/2 foot wide Tulip tree at issue was substantially excavated in the year after a prior inspection report from June, 2015 -- despite his specific recommendation to protect and preserve the tree. The ARB should investigate whether the resident was aware of the Tree Health recommendation, and intentionally or recklessly flouted the advice in hopes of making sure the tree would be removed -- and if so the ARB should refer the case for prosecution, i.e. removing a tree without permission. (Tulip trees are magnificent sleek, tall, graceful trees whose leaves have a tulip shape.)

Documents for applications for 95 Birch Dr.

In this case a large Oak tree is 'suddenly' a risk because the resident needs its space for a new patio (see resident letter). Clearly there are many unspoken alternatives -- fencing around the tree well, cutting the grate away from the tree (see report). Furthermore the report speak of 'bark abnormalities' based on just a surface inspection. A core sample would tell what is really going on. Tree Health, the Village consultant, unfortunately has two 'speeds' for trees -- 'healthy' or 'take it down'. In this case the health remains in question. But even if there were some problem, not every tree is beyond cure. As arborist Richard Oberlander has often said (in paraphrase), "When a person goes to the doctor with a broken arm, do they say OK, you need to be euthanized?" This tree needs a second opinion. And the motives need to be factored in -- a once-unobjectionable tree needs to be removed because they need the space.

Documents for applications for 192 Overlook Terr.

It appears that most of the trees in this modest area of Fairfield Park are proposed to be removed. But equally significantly the house renovations proposed will result in a house over two-and-a-half times the size of the current house (4077 square feet of flour-space over the current 1590) -- and cannot fit in reasonably given the balance built into the neighborhoods. The house will go from 1 1/2 stories to 2 1/2 stories, and be about five feet higher at 27 3/4 feet. This is not a reasonable plan -- especially as the entire housing code is undergoing revision.

      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.