OFFICIAL’S OWN TREE REMOVAL PERMIT AXED

lilleston-homeThe home of Elizabeth Lilleston, Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer. Below, her husband, Richard, looks at one of two trees that were to be removed from their Woodland Drive property. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

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A permit issued by Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer allowing her to remove two trees from her own property has been yanked by the mayor following an outcry from neighbors.

Amid complaints of questionable ethics, and after  an inquiry by redbankgreen Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Mike Halfacre rescinded the permit that tree-law enforcer Elizabeth Lilleston issued on her Woodland Drive home, which she and her husband sold to a developer earlier this month.

“That can’t happen,” Halfacre said within minutes of hearing about the permit. “Everyone has to know it can’t happen that way.”

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A BIT LATE, FAIR HAVEN GIRL TESTS TREE LAW

zoe-gallagherZoe Gallagher, 12, in front of the Poplar Avenue property where trees are being cut down to make room for two houses. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

By last Wednesday, Zoe Gallagher figured it might be too late. By 7:30a Saturday, she was sure.

That’s when she was awakened by sound of trucks and chainsaws. Looking out her window, the 12-year-old knew that there was no chance she’d be able to save the dozen trees that were about to be cut down across the street.

Zoe, who is the president of the environmental club at Knollwood School, was a step behind in her fight for the doomed trees on Poplar Avenue. She hadn’t learned of their impending demise until Wednesday, the day after the home builder, Spencer Foxworth, won an appeal to cut down the trees in order to make room for two new homes on the property. He had previously been denied permission by Elizabeth Lilleston, chairwoman of the shade tree commission and Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer.

“So what’s the point of having a tree ordinance?” Zoe asked, as she watched workers load trucks with tree limbs and brush. “It’s like there isn’t any. You just waste a day presenting the case because you’re going to get it anyway.”

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