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North Salem Neighbors Complain: Trees Cut Down Without Permit

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – A North Salem resident's removal of 125 trees without a permit and digging and regrading of land was the topic of a heated public hearing at last week's meeting of the Planning Board.

Neighbors of 205 Hardscrabble Road became alarmed when a logging company appeared and began knocking down trees, working into the evening and Sunday. In addition, construction equipment was removing soil from some areas and dumping it elsewhere. A stop work order was issued by the town, citing violation of the town code's Chapter 189.

Tim Allen of Bibbo Associates spoke to the board on behalf of the property owner, Ryann McCarthy. The work was done to create a meadow and a small soccer field for the owner's children, Allen said. Trees in front of the house were removed to provide more indoor light, and fill was added to level the area.

Board members visited the site and expressed concern about the stability of the now treeless slope to the southeast, estimated at about 70 degrees. The plan is to cut a little more to soften the slope, add a retaining wall, import more soil, seed and plant four- to six-foot Norway spruces, Allen said.

"I believe Norway spruces require sun and that's a north-facing slope," said Andrew Sternlieb, a neighbor to the south of the property. "The growth will be limited by all the rock in the area.

"We had privacy with the big trees," Sternlieb said. "I can understand why they wanted to cut down some of the ones in poor condition, but some of them were specimen trees. They're not going to grow back in my lifetime, nor in my children's."

Bill Monti, a neighbor to the northeast, expressed concern about the wetlands and control of runoff water. He wondered what precautions would have been taken if a permit had been in place.

Wetlands and water flow had been taken into consideration during the planning stage, and no significant impact is predicted, Allen said.

"It was a professional logging company that did the work," Monti said. "They worked late into the night and also on Sundays. They certainly must have known they would need a permit. It was callous and cavalier on their part."

"I realize that no one owns a view, but there should have been some consideration. They took down mature trees."

Board member Robert Tompkins said, "I was personally outraged. We can never replace what we lost. There's nothing we can do now."

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