hot-topic rightAfter almost a year and a half of on-and-off debate, an effort to trim Fair Haven’s tree-protection ordinance failed Monday night, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Mayor Mike Halfacre, who votes only in the event of a council tie, cast the decisive vote, halting  amendments pushed by Councilman Bob Marchese that would have made it easier for property owners to remove trees.

The changes would have narrowed the existing tree-protection ordinance so that its purpose was solely to prevent clear-cutting, rather than to also “restrict the removal of other trees.”

Fair Haven’s tree law, adopted in 2007, came under renewed scrutiny in the summer of 2010 after a builder cut down a dozen trees on a Poplar Avenue residential lot, prompting protests from neighbors, including 13-year-old Zoe Gallagher.

Attempts to make the ordinance more restrictive failed, however, and Marchese later sought to abolish or loosen it. He said he considered the ordinance an unconstitutional infringement on property rights.

The effort to loosen the law has gone through several iterations since last spring.

From the Press:

Councilmen James Banahan, Jerome Koch and Jonathan Peters voted no, while Councilmen Robert K. Marchese, Benjamin Lucarelli and Rowland Wilhelm voted yes.

“As a practical matter we’ve lived with the (existing) tree ordinance for four years and it isn’t a big deal,” Halfacre said. “It is not s tremendous infringement on property rights. I think the ordinance, while not perfect, works.”

Marchese told the Press he’s moving on from the issue.

Here’s the ordinance showing the proposed changes: december-12-2011