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Amid complaints of questionable ethics, and after  an inquiry by redbankgreen Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Mike Halfacre rescinded the permit that tree-law enforcer Elizabeth Lilleston issued on her Woodland Drive home, which she and her husband sold to a developer earlier this month.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

c-zipfCindy Zipf, right, shows residents photos of her neighbor’s property, which she says was clear-cut of its trees. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The quest by a Rumson couple to prove that local officials negligently allowed the “murder” of numerous trees on a residential building lot drew a packed house of lawyers, experts and crestfallen neighbors to Monday night’s planning board meeting.

With their appeal of tree-removal permit granted by Frederick André, the borough’s tree conservation officer, Clean Ocean Action founder and executive director Cindy Zipf and her husband, Rick Jones say they hope to win an acknowledgment that mistakes were made and stricter enforcement of a tree-protection ordinance.

A lawyer by their side, Zipf and Jones paged through a sheaf of documents showing, they argue, that the property next door to their home at 37 Navesink Avenue was the site of a “murder of trees” that violated the ordinance.

The alleged slaughter could have been prevented had André, who is also the planning board’s secretary, properly done his job, they say.

“The tree conservation officer failed to implement basic procedures. The tree conservation officer allowed a clear-cut at 35 Navesink Avenue,” said Andrew Provence, a lawyer with Ansell, Grimm and Aaron. “What happened at 35 Navesink is plainly a clear-cut. To call it anything else is an insult to this borough, this board, my clients and the people of Rumson.”

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