East Hills Degraded:
Unjustified Tree-Cutting, Over-Building and

Over-size, formless new house at 37 Laurel Lane, Norgate, 7-13-12. New house at 37 Laurel looms over property-line, degrading neighbor's property.
Properly-spaced houses, original Norgate layout, across from 37 Laurel Lane.

Keep East Hills Green Civic Association
Call for information.
Contact Richard Brummel to Help!
(516) 669-1741. Thank you.

Main EAST HILLS Homepage

Petition to Preserve East Hills
from overdevelopment and de-forestation

Testimony presented to Village Board
May 23, 2012

Testimony before East Hills Village Board May 23, 2012 about Overbuilding Epidemic HERE.
DVD video of outrageous conduct by village officials at the meeting also available upon request. (516) 669-1741.

WE LOST -- and Keep on Losing the ecological battles here

(5-25-12) Further trees have been lost due to the work at 37 Laurel. A perfectly healthy 75-foot plus Beech tree tree at 27 Laurel near the property-line was so undermined it had to be cut down on an emergency basis. The tree company then persuaded the owner to violently prune another healthy tree on the property, scaring the homeowner about danger to her home (from a completely healthy tree 30 feet away). The company also improperly permitted its hooting and whooping employee to scale that, and another, healthy live tree with damaging boot-spikes, instead of using a rope-lift contraption. Neighbor Hilda Yohalem also complained that her own trees behind the immense excavation pit were likely damaged. As far as we know there have been no penalties to the builder, nor any admission of error by the village. At the same time a beautiful multi-trunk 20-foot Cypress tree on an adjoining property, with a 50-50 mixture of green and browned leaves, was permitted to be cut down by the same company by the village inspector -- without the display of any official permit. (Photos will be posted soon.)

(4-19-12) A series of governmental and personal failures has resulted in the demolition of one of Norgate's finest trees, a 100-foot Oak tree at 37 Laurel Lane. This outrage has been repeated before, and the public needs to weigh in on our failed policies and Boards. This specific tree was a slow-motion outrage that resulted from failures by the Architectural Board to uphold the tree law, the Village Board to enact a moratorium when requested, the public in failing to rally for this tree. I also failed, in getting frightened off from a court process that would have saved this tree. Tree experts by the village also failed to properly evaluate the tree's significance in the neighborhood, as required by tree laws. Please contact me at (516) 669-1741 to help. The village currently is repeatedly bypassing its own legal language to allow indiscriminate removal of towering trees -- the "tree canopy" described in its tree law -- that are supposed to be protected. Big loopholes also exist in the law, and in the practice of the boards. Please Submit Comments at the Village website and cc us at r_brummel AT att dot net. -- see the village website for information >here.

100-foot Oak tree at 37 Laurel Lane was despicably cut down April 19th.

This tree was cut down with the shameful approval of the Architectural Review Board, the failure to intervene with a moratorium of the Trustees, and the silence of too many neighbors. Of course the developer and "tree service" also claim responsibility.

Want to Help? Contact Richard Brummel (516) 669-1741 (cell), Email r_brummel@att.net

4/2/12 Here are important Dates to become involved in the effort to "Preserve the Character of East Hills" --

  • PUBLIC HEARINGS -- News Flash -- Two hearings will occur, to be announced on the village website. The first is scheduled for April 30th, at the Village Board meeting, to hear about concerns and wished-for revisions to the Tree Laws. Two weeks later, officials plan to vote to hold another hearing to discuss Over-building -- new houses and additions that are too big or badly designed or both. They have told me they agree change is needed. The question is HOW MUCH change (restriction) do residents want and will agree to support. AND the hearings will ask: "Will there be a brief moratorium?" while the changes are written. As always try to confirm any dates with the village office before you attend (village office 621-5600).

    HERE is your chance to push the village to make the laws work. They will be listening. Your comments -- written and verbal -- will be recorded. If you cannot attend you can mail a statement to the village. Check with the village, and please email me a copy. r_brummel@att.net

    BACKGROUND: Faced with mounting criticism, partially in the form of our Letters to the Editor in The Roslyn News but also from residents attending the board meeting, the village board voted in February to hold a Public Hearing to air residents' concerns and consider a brief 60-day construction-moratorium while existing laws are improved.

If you really want to make a difference, ask to be included in the Review Committee that Mayor Koblenz announced in February was being formed to address concerns about over-building and other issues. Call village hall at 621-5600. Also demand that the ARB meetings be fully open to the public in all apsects -- reversing the recent decison to close important parts of the meetings -- and that the operations of the Review Committee be fully public and begin work ASAP.

Detailed Documents Outlining and Illustrating Issues

140 Walnut Drive, Country Estates, behind the firehouse on Harbor Hill Road, was COMPLETELY LEVELLED of trees. 2/26/12

Update 3-6-12 -- There will be an official Public Hearing on the various tree, new house design and size, and renovations issues that we have highlighted at the Village Board meeting in April. Your input is needed, both at the hearing and prior to it. (Call the village for the meeting schedule, 621-5600 or check the web site frequently for changes.)

This is not an "information meeting" but a real hearing as voted by the Trustees last Wednesday. The purpose of the hearing is to determine if there is support for a building and tree-cutting moratorium. Also, the builders and village Buildings Department suddenly found a way to move forward at 37 Laurel Lane without cutting down three additional large trees (out of seven or so), after we pressed them to find alternatives for the new sanitary systems. Now they are apparently telling people "What's the problem? it's only one tree". Expect a lot of misinformation and misdirection as we saw with the Firehouse struggle last year.

We must organize residents who are interested in these issues. Many of you have seen neighbors' trees clear-cut. The Architectural Review Board continues be deluged with requests to cut down trees for no better reason than "Feng Shui" as was presented at the last meeting. While the Chairman is aggressive he is often voted down by his Board, and now they have chosen as the Mayor's direction to deliberate and vote in secret. We were forced to leave the room on Monday night at their direction. Please get involved -- Email richardny8-easthills@yahoo.com or Call me at (516) 669-1741 (cell). Residents must plan a pre-hearing meeting to organize ourselves. The Trustees are making positive sounds in the campaign season, but these issues have been ignored and mismanaged for years, and there is no reason to believe in Santa Claus or miracles now.

NOTE -- As of 3/4/12, the village has negated some of the following text by finding an alternative to several tree removals with the developer. It is unlikely that would have occurred without this publicity, because it has NOT happened in the past. So we leave this text for reference now.
All trees marked with an "X" at 37 Laurel Lane, pictured here, are targeted for destruction.The house is ALREADY approved for demolition, as are the two trees with an "X" farthest to the right.
We are pushing for re-consideration of the entire permit at the Architectural Review Board (ARB). There is currently a Stop Work order courtesy of our Buildings Dept. because the builder did not specify all the trees in his original application. So this lovely old building could conceivably be saved, or at least its lot better preserved and the neighbors spared the ugly and ill-suited new home currently approved o replace it.

On Sunday 2/26/12 we spoke with two visiting Trustees, Clara Pomerantz and Emmauel Zuckerman, who are up for re-election in March, and we showed them 37 Laurel Lane which was recently approved for demolition along with two if its towering trees. Now the developer applied to remove almost all of them. The trustees both agreed to look into tightening up tree protection and building regulations, but we have not heard any commitments or followups.In discussion with Candidate Matt Weiss he said he had thoroughly read the Tree Protection law and found weaknesses. He agreed with our argument that ALL tree removals should come before the ARB as long as provisions were made for certified dead or otherwise damaged and unhealthy trees to be removable at the discretion of the Tree Warden in a timely manner.

We have made some progress. The village board acknowledged last Wednesday night (2/29/12) there is concern by some residents about the effectiveness of tree protection and the effectiveness of design and size restrictions in protecting neighbors from undesirable new construction or renovations. Mayor Michael Koblenz said the village is already organizing a committee to look at revising relevant laws, and the board voted to allow residents to speak out in a Public Hearing in April about whether they want a moratorium on future tree removals and construction until better laws and practices are implemented.
We do not believe the hearing is soon enough.
But the mayor has agreed with us to speak to industry professionals to decide if the village should look at making a new policy about whether tree removals are really justified when new septic systems are installed. And if so there may be an advisory to relevant boards not to act until there is a clear policy.
The technical question concerns whether it is feasible to excavate old cesspools, replace the nearby soil, and install a new septic system in the current site of the cesspool.
This question will help protect trees at 37 Laurel Lane proposed for removal.
Currently the Buildings Dept. has been allowing builders to argue that trees must come down to make way for new septic systems, but we have found sanitary experts who agree alternatives are feasible and may be economically reasonable when expensive new homes or expansions are being built.
The mayor made a special phone call to discuss the issues. He argued that experts are expensive and residents or builders may find additional costs burdensome, but we argued back that good public policy depends on accurate science or technical knowledge, and that the hypothetical additional expense of several thousand dollars to protect neighborhood character, charm, and greenery can be a reasonable increment on an expensive elective new-home construction or addition in most cases.
Richard Brummel (516) 669-1741

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