BARK TURNS TO BITE IN FAIR HAVEN

A move to restrict the ability of homeowners and builders to take down trees on their properties is back in Fair Haven, uprooting some tensions that had been buried in recent months.

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Larry Higgs has a story in today’s Asbury Park Press that samples local opinion on a proposed ordinance, up for discussion by the Borough Council at its May 7 meeting, that would require permits for the removal of some trees.

Higgs writes:

Depending on what side you’re on, the debate comes down to tree preservation or property owners’ rights.

Many of the residents quoted appear to want some sort of compromise that would prevent clear-cutting but allow limited tree removal without the need for a borough permit. But there are strong opinions from both property-rightists and nature preservationists.

The issue flared up more than a year ago, when some residents complained that the construction of new homes on Laurel Drive and Linden Drive, of all places, had come at the expense of trees as old as 100 years. The issue returned to the fore earlier this year.

From the story:

A first attempt at introducing a tree ordinance in February was met with heated arguments from the council and residents, the threat of a lawsuit and, finally, stony silence when it came time for someone on the council to second the proposal. Critics say that proposal, which would have required permits, was too restrictive.

After that, Halfacre appointed Councilman Chris Walrath, who had opposed the idea, and Councilman Chris Rinn, who was for it, to a subcommittee to draft a new tree ordinance.

That proposal also was opposed by the Shore Builders Association, which said the ordinance was vague. The group threatened to sue.

A recent story in the Press said the builders’ group “didn’t follow through on a request by Councilman Jon Peters for suggestions to modify the proposal when it was discussed Feb. 5.”

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