Over the summer the River Edge council and members of the Shade Tree Commission continually butted heads over a long overdue shade tree ordinance that began almost six years ago. On Monday night, both sides announced reaching a consensus and a proposed draft will be introduced in November.
"What has happened is that we tried to get some of the council involved in fine tuning the public tree ordinance," Borough Attorney Sam Cereste said. "It looks like we reached a consensus with some minor modifications."
The process for the tree ordinance began several years ago during former borough attorney William Lindsley's tenure but introduction was continually delayed for numerous rewrites. In May, Cereste threw his support behind the cause, drafting a five-page ordinance that included a new requirement for the removal of any trees by combining an application for removal with that of attaining a building permit.
The removal application was intended to place a greater emphasis on larger home construction and that of redevelopment projects over smaller construction projects by homeowners. However Republican councilmembers questioned the need to dictate what a private property owner could do with their own trees through legislation, regardless of the exemptions included.
During a June meeting the council had voted down the ordinance 4-2 along party lines but later agreed to reconsider if any wording related to trees on private property was removed.
The ordinance was amended in late June to only allow for the removal of trees on a redevelopment project to be combined with attaining a building permit. It also called for a survey showing what trees currently exist on the property and which, if any would be removed.
"What we have is a good starting point," Councilman Ed Mignone said. "This should grab the biggest property offenders that we see now and if we need to revisit this in a year we can."
The draft ordinance is scheduled for introduction on November 5 and a possible public hearing and adoption on November 19.