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North Salem Board: Tree Removal May Have Included Neighbor's Trees

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – A North Salem resident who roused his neighbors’ ire when he ordered a logging company to remove 125 trees without a permit at his property on 205 Hardscrabble Road must now deal with another unanticipated neighbor conflict: a portion of the land where trees were felled is technically on another homeowner’s property, according to town planning board Chairperson Cynthia Curtis.

At a work session Wednesday night, the North Salem Planning Board chose Saturday morning to do another site visit, the second since the issue was brought to its attention this month.  This time, board members said they will walk the area in order to more firmly delineate distinct property lines.

At a heated public hearing on Aug. 1, neighbors of property owner Ryann McCarthy complained about the tree removal and large quantities of soil that has been dug up and dumped.

“I think the biggest question is what the property owner is going to do about this area, and we’ll have to wait,” said Curtis, adding that the neighbors hope McCarthy will come forward and consider working this out with them more directly. ”It’s really a neighbor-to-neighbor issue right now,” she said.

Curtis said Tim Allen of Bibbo Associates, who represented McCarthy at the hearing, told her he is in favor of staking out the more unclear property lines. Some of these, according to Curtis, look to be marked with a stone wall and some may not be.

Board members visited the site before the meeting on Aug. 1 and expressed concern about the stability of the now treeless slope, but Allen said the slope would be softened and a retaining wall added.

The town of North Salem issued a stop work order for the project and cited violations of the town code’s Chapter 189 Sand and Gravel/Tree Removal ordinance. The board said the last time it took a hard look at tweaking this ordinance at a meeting was in September 2011.

Curtis provided the board with tree removal regulations from the towns of Bedford and Somers for them to possibly consider a rewrite of the law before sending it off to the town board for approval.

“There are some elements of those two laws that we might want to consider specifically,” said Curtis, namely the regulations that refer to any trees on historic roads, steep slopes, wetlands or designated as landmarked trees.

Curtis said she hopes the board will really “dig into” the issue at its next meeting.

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