Helicopters can’t land in Old Brookville

Trustees and mayor work to maintain quality of life in the village


By Laura Lane


After some discussion, the Old Brookville Village Board voted 5-0 on July 17 to prohibit helicopters from landing anywhere in the village, except in fire and police emergencies, and in cases when the federal government might need to land there.

Board members said the ordinance was needed to maintain quality of life for village residents.

After, board members discussed prohibiting bamboo in the village because it’s a highly invasive species, though they did not vote on an ordinance. “Our neighbors in Roslyn Harbor adopted a code with penalties,” said Mayor Bernard Ryba.

People often plant bamboo to create privacy screens for their properties because bamboo is fast growing, but it is also difficult to control and quickly becomes unmanageable. Roots can travel as far as 20 feet from the base of the plant, and bamboo grows very tall.

Glen Cove outlawed planting bamboo in 2013. Property owners must remove it.

Ryba said that the board needed to decide what to do with properties that already have bamboo. “I had one homeowner tell me that when they went to the nursery, they were not told that bamboo is invasive,” Ryba said. “Would our new code be for looking ahead, or include those who have already planted bamboo?”

He added that he was surprised to discover how much bamboo there already is in Old Brookville. “Six people have it,” he said, adding that it is a problem in the village. “The roots grow horizontally and do so rapidly,” he said.

The board considered allowing homeowners to eradicate the problem, acknowledging that the removal of bamboo is very difficult.

“I would not grandfather the code in,” Trustee Ken Casatuta said.

But Trustee Matthew Schamroth said he believes the code should have weight. “It should include fines if you aren’t able to keep the bamboo on your property,” he said. “If it’s on your neighbor’s property, you should be fined per week. But I do recognize that it is hard to ask someone to rip out what they consider to be landscaping.”

No final decision was made at the meeting.

A letter from attorney Scott Guardino, who is representing Sam Giacomo, was discussed. The May 15 letter regarded the purchase of land owned by the village off Merry Lane. “This has been going on for two years,” said John Chase, the village attorney. “The home-owners are requesting that they address the board.”

Ryba asked how the village would determine the price of the land if a decision was made to sell it.

“It’s not even a 10th of an acre,” he said, adding that the village owns two parcels at the end of Merry Lane, which is considered to be in Roslyn Harbor.

There was much discussion regarding the property, which is at the end of a cul de sac, and what the property is considered to be. “Is it a right of way,” Ryba asked. “Is it a public trust? We need to do more research to determine the purpose of this land.”

On another note, the North Shore Land Alliance has put in an application for a grant for a trail project at the Louis C. Clark Sanctuary, an eight-acre sanctuary on Valentine’s Road, which was once part of the Valentine Farm. A decision was made to get in touch with the alliance to find out more about the plan.

PSEG is continuing its work on Cedar Swamp Road. The utility is engaged in hardening the power grid. The work begins in Glen Cove and travels through Old Brookville, crossing Northern Boulevard for a half-mile into Brookville. The purpose of the project is to reduce the frequency of power outages. “We said we wanted them to work at night,” Ryba said. “We wanted it to be until 6 a.m., but they said they would only work until 5 a.m. because of a surge of traffic to the Glen Cove ferry.”

PSEG is installing new telephone poles and restringing the power lines. “They are taking the old poles out, which we got them to do because of the good relationship that we have with them,” Ryba said. “They aren’t doing that anywhere else.”

The new poles will be bigger, and the wiring will be thicker, so if branches do fall on them, there will not be a power outage. It’s projected that the multi-million-dollar project will be complete by Labor Day.

Ryba said the village also spoke with PSEG representatives about the tree trimming that will be a part of the project. The village does not want the beauty of the trees to be destroyed. “Our tree trimming guy will be there periodically to be sure they are doing it right,” he said.

The employment of a new arborist — Richard Weir — appeared to be the only new hire at the Village of Old Brookville’s during the annual organization portion of the meeting. Chase Rathkopf & Chase, of Glen Cove, remains the village’s law firm at $90,000 per year, and Sandra Albro will serve another two-year term as village clerk and treasurer at $69,000 annually. Ryba did say that the position of deputy mayor remains vacant.