The most controversial element of the village's new shade tree proposal has been removed after considerable resident feedback, Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh said Wednesday night.
Originally, Ridgewood Environmental Advisory Committee (REAC) had recommended that all homeowners who remove trees from their property either replant the number removed or pay an undisclosed sum into a tree fund for other plantings.
Concerns over rights of property owners – and general feedback – has led the committee to "strongly encourage" but not require residents to re-plant, Walsh said. However, the stipulation would apply to developers or those making additions to their homes that requires clear-cutting.
The other major elements of the proposed ordinance include the provision that the village no longer plants trees in the right-of-way (the space between the sidewalk and the street).
"The question is people love the canopy which is the give-and-take," Walsh said. "But you can't have it both ways."
Trees planted in the right-of-way can be easily ripped up, as was illustrated during Hurricane Sandy. More than 50 trees were uprooted, many damaging sidewalks, homes and power wires.
The tree policy ordinance would largely be modeled after that of Hanover, where Village Planner Blais Brancheau also works.
To reclaim the canopy, trees would be planted on the right side of the sidewalk, with resident permission. It will still lead to the village showing a few "missing teeth," as Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli said, but the status quo is a public safety hazard.
Ridgewood's village council will be continuing discussions on the tree policy in January and February.