The Village of Valley Stream will be holding public hearings on six proposed local laws. The hearings are scheduled for the Aug. 19 Board of Trustees meeting at Village Hall.
Of the proposed laws, the most significant would require residents to file for permits to cut down trees on their properties or otherwise risk a fine. Barbara DeGrace, the mayor’s assistant, said the proposal is “a work in progress,” but added that the village board is looking at Malverne’s code as an example.
Under the language of the proposed tree-removal law, residents would need to provide proof that a tree posed a health risk or that its removal is a “necessary response to an emergency,” such as a risk that the tree could damage private property, in order for the tree to be legally chopped down.
The penalty for noncompliance depends on the number of trees taken down, and a resident may be required to replace them. Under Malverne’s law, the village board has the authority to determine whether it would be “impractical or undesirable” to plant a new tree at the location. If so, a resident may have to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
“We get upset in general when people take down healthy trees,” Mayor Ed Fare said in 2017, when the village board first considered implementing a tree-preservation law. “We think that should be looked at.”
He added that Valley Stream already has a code requiring residents to obtain a permit from the village to cut down trees on medians — the patch of grass that divides the sidewalks from the streets. The code states: “No person shall destroy, remove or substantially alter the habit of any tree located within the curbside area without obtaining a permit from the Superintendent of Public Works or his duly authorized agent.” It further states that the village must replace any tree that the Highway Department removes from a median.
Public hearings will also be held on laws that would allow the village to install signs on village-owned property, to allow a third-party inspector to examine parking garages for structural defects and to eliminate building code exemptions for businesses.
“Too many professionals [are] using the exemption clause to avoid paying fees and getting inspections,” Fare said of the latter proposed law. “[There’s] no reason they should have been excluded since it is about inspecting for applicable building and fire codes.”
The public hearings are scheduled to take place before the board votes to turn the proposals into law. Village board meetings take place at 6:30 p.m.