zoe-gallagherZoe Gallagher, 13, had rallied support for the measure after trees on a Poplar Avenue property were cut down to make room for two houses. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

A proposed local law that would have required property owners to notify neighbors of plans to remove trees failed to gain passage in Fair Haven Monday night, the Asbury Park Press reports.

The proposal had pitted residents who wanted to preserve greenscape against others who saw the law as an affront to property rights. Councilman Ben Lucarelli argued that requiring a person who wants to remove a single tree to notify their neighbors is excessive regulation, the Press reports.

Specifically, property owners who had been denied tree-removal permits by the borough arborist under an existing law would have had to send notices to neighbors within 200 feet if they appealed the rejection to the borough council.

An appeal that was granted by the council in June raised the ire of some Poplar Avenue residents in June. They said they’d had no advance notice that the appeal, by a builder who wanted to remove 10 old-growth, healthy trees was to be heard. That appeal was granted.

Proponents of an ordinance change requiring notification were galvanized by Zoe Gallagher, a 13-year-old who championed it.

But the measure failed to attract enough support to go to a vote by the all-Republican council, even though it had some support there, the Press reports.

From the article, by reporter Larry Higgs:

Councilman Jon Peters withdraw his motion to put the proposed ordinance to a vote after a brief argument with Councilmen Robert Marchese and Benjamin Lucarelli, who said the proposed ordinance was onerous and in general would infringe on property owners’ rights.

“Do you want to revise it or kill it? Do you want to adopt it?,” Peters asked Lucarelli, who opposed adoption. “Then don’t have a donnybrook.”

Councilman Jim Lehnert, who originally proposed the ordinance, tried to salvage it by suggesting that a property owner not have to send notices by certified mail, a point the Planning Board also mentioned when it unanimously recommended the measure to the council.

“I want to eliminate the big government (on people’s backs) part,” Lehnert.