ENGLEWOOD, N.J. -- If a group in Englewood has its way, shade trees in the city will be treated with new respect.
The Englewood Shade Tree Association (ETSA) was formed by residents concerned over clearcutting, a practice of aggressive tree removal to make way for new housing or home additions.
"Unless you see clearcutting, you don't know what’s going on. I saw at least 20 trees go down at once, then 30," said resident Jill Lauren, a co-founder of ETSA.
"People can take down 75 or 100-year-old trees as long as they are replaced with any kind of tree at all. I was shocked to learn that."
She and fellow resident Kevin Lake set about crafting a new tree ordinance that would effectively abolish clearcutting and set a replacement code to ensure tall shady oaks wouldn't get replaced by small decorative evergreens.
The new ordinance is with city engineer Frantz Volcy, Lake said, noting ETSA reworked it after city officials made suggestions to their first draft in the spring of last year.
Trees can still come down for development and projects under the new ordinance, it just asks that the number removed be held to a minimum and limited to the footprint of the plans, Lake noted.
City officials are on board with ETSA's mission to preserve the city's majestic tree lines, Englewood Council President Wayne Hamer said.
"As a city, we are absolutely committed to trees," Hamer said, adding it goes beyond aesthetics. "Removing trees has strong environmental implications.
"We don’t want clearcutting and if trees are removed we want to make sure that neighbors aren’t negatively impacted by run-off if they are downhill," he said.
Tree removal can also impact neighbors due to loss of shade, Lake added, leading to possible fluctuations in utility bills.
The new ordinance would require that neighbors are notified when trees are removed.
Once the final tweaks are made to the ordinance by the city engineer, both Hamer and Lake said they're confident something new will be in place by the spring.
In the meantime, Lauren said she wants the residents of Englewood to know about ETSA and support its mission of minimizing the loss of shade trees.
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