GLOVERSVILLE – The city Common Council Tuesday night approved three ordinance changes to Gloversville’s tree laws, establishing new rules and city incentives for the planting and removal of trees and the creation of an appointed Tree Commission to oversee new tree planting permits and other tree-related duties.
The council passed the three new ordinances by a vote 6-0 after three public hearings, during which there were no public comments. Councilman-at-large Wayne Peters was absent from the meeting.
Mayor Vince DeSantis told the council the new tree ordinance will help with the city’s second application to the Arbor Day Foundation for “Tree City U.S.A.” status, a designation that opens up the opportunity to apply for grant money from the New York state Dept. of Conservation and the federal U.S. Forestry Service.
“There are some requirements you have to meet, like a certain amount of money in your budget per capita,” DeSantis said. “It has to be at least $2 per capita, which would be about $30,000, but we have more than that in our budget at about $50,000, but they also want us to have a tree ordinance that encourages people to plant trees, so our existing tree ordinance was from a long time ago, and didn’t meet these standards, and that’s why we were denied, but they said ‘please, apply again, and they had a couple of model ordinances, and we took a look at them, and we adapted them.”
If Gloversville is approved for Tree City U.S.A. it would become one of the 3,400 communities in the U.S. that have received the designation, including cities in New York state such as Albany, Schenectady, Buffalo, Cortland, Cobleskill, Cooperstown, Saratoga Springs and Ithaca.
The tree program was started under former Department of Public Works Director Chris Perry, an arborist, and originally focused on the removal of dangerous trees in Gloversville’s parks, but with the new ordinances a portion of the $50,000 budgeted for trees will now go to city residents to help plant and remove trees.
DeSantis said the city’s new Tree Commission will be tasked with approving permits for planting new trees and the city will assist property owners who plant new trees on city terraces, which are technically city property but adjacent property owners are required to maintain them. He said going forward the city will provide $200 or half the price, whichever is less, of planting a new tree on a city terrace.
The new city ordinances maintain the city’s authority to order property owners to remove dangerous trees, a power the city has long held but seldom used due to the considerable expense involved, but there will now be an incentive to help with the cost for property owners. DeSantis said the city will now provide $1,000 or half the cost, whichever is less, to assist property owners with the removal of trees deemed by the city to be dangerous and in need of removal.
Some of the other rules involved with the new and amended tree ordinances include prohibitions against individuals or corporations planting, spraying, fertilizing, treating, removing, disturbing the root system of or otherwise damaging or destroying any trees on city property without express permission from the city. There’s also a prohibition against festening or tethering any animal to a tree on city property.
Tuesday night the Common Council also approved DeSantis appointments to the new Tree Commission:
• Jeremy Krajewski – term ending 12-31-22
• William Crankshaw – term ending 12-31-23
• Rachel Williams – term ending 12-31-23
• Logan Barclay – term ending 12-31-24
The three-year terms for the volunteer Tree Commission members end after the initial appointment dates. The city’s mayor and City Clerk will act as advisors to the commission and the city’s DPW director and Building Inspector will be non-voting members of the commission.
City Clerk Jenni Mazur said the city still needs to appoint one additional member to the commission and is currently accepting applications which can be dropped off the city clerk’s office at city hall.