Hundreds of Trees at Risk in Nassau County"STOMP" Citizens' Lawsuit In DisarrayCutting to Resume Monday
Plainview, NY 10-24-14 -- Nassau County's "War on Nature" now involves cutting down every tree on every county road with sidewalks (or possibly not even) needing repair. This year the media and/or this website or both picked up on Nassau's removal of about 13 beloved trees on Searingtown Rd in Albertson, about 200 valued and mourned trees on Seamen's Neck Rd. in Seaford / Massapequa, and plans for about 200 on South Oyster Bay Rd. around Plainview, and another roughly 50 trees on Peninsula Blvd. in Hewlett.
We offered substantial free assistance to the residents' group in Plainview -- "Operation STOMP or Save Trees Over More Pavement" found on Facebook -- so they could represent themselves and control their own fate, but they they chose (at the 11th hour) a legal team who made questionable decisions, apparently swamped them with billable hours, then stymied the necessary appeal once they hit a rough legal patch -- at this moment.     They are facing a resumption of the Nassau tree-cutting, no more temporary restraining order, and no appeal in the works as far as we know. The conduct of the Supreme Court operation in Mineola has also been scandalous which we have outlined in two press releases here and here.    Amazingly no less than four (!) Supreme Court judges handled the case on October 14-15, 2014, as the initial temporary restraining order came up for review, in a game of hot-potato. The judge it finally landed on, Justice R. Bruce Cozzens Jr., refused to allow oral arguments on a preliminary injunction, refused to permit a response by the residents to hitherto-unseen documents used in evidence by their opponents, nd refused to permit to force Nassau to divulge documents that were by law available "upon request" to the residents under state law (SEQRA).    The court's "Independent Assignment System" (IAS) was compromised by the antics of the judges, and then basic rules of fairness were violated too.    Justice Cozzens this Thursday (10/23/14) issued a pathetic decision accepting Nassau County's claim that an exemption for "road repaving" in the state environmental review law ("SEQRA") also exempted tree-removals performed at the same time. But such an exemption does not exist in the statute or in case-law either, judging from the absence of ANY citation in the decision.    SEQRA is a "strict construction" statute by court rulings, meaning its language is supposed to mean what it says -- and there is no exemption for tree-removals. Yet that concept was lost on the Court.    We were part of a wide-ranging report on the controversy by the intrepid Jennifer McLogan of Channel 2 on October 25th -- in the inexplicable 36-hour absence of the "STOMP" leader -- to explain that model public-works programs allow trees to be preserved while repairing sidewalks, the ostensible reason for the tree removal project.     As it stands we have urged the residents to mobilize Monday to protect their trees ON THE STREET, and to break from their attorney and file an appeal themselves if he is unwilling