Town of Newburgh councilman James Presutti introduced a local law at the town board March 25 meeting that would advocate for tree preservation and protection in future development projects.
Presutti, an arborist himself, was unhappy with the clear-cutting of the 122-acre property across from the Newburgh Mall. The lot was supposed to be developed by the Marketplace and then the Ridge development projects, but since both projects have been abandoned the land remains barren. The developers were not required to reforest the land when the project fell through. But that could change as early as this summer.
The law Presutti has drafted with the help of town attorney Mark Taylor would propose the reforestation and preservation of protected trees in concerns to town development projects.
“If a company comes in and does something like take a lot of trees down to do a project, and they don’t come back and they lose their funding – like what happened before — then they’re liable to come back and reforest that. And if they don’t we will, based on the money we hold in escrow from them,” explained Presutti.
This law would also apply to those who approach the planning board for a project and have done cutting on the property in the past two years. The town would enforce this law by either having the developers reforest the property themselves, or make a monetary payment into an allocated fund that would be used solely for tree-planting within the town of Newburgh.
The 15-page-long law is still in its revision stage, but once it is ready the town will schedule a public hearing. Councilmembers are hopeful the tree preservation and protection law could be passed by the end of the summer, if not sooner.
“This is something that’s been on my mind for a long time, even before I became a councilman,” stated Presutti. “Seeing kind of what happened across from the Newburgh mall, I don’t like looking at that flat open ground. They haven’t done anything to reforest that. So I came up with a tree preservation protection law for our town.”
The meeting also included the board voting for a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) for acquisition and contract approval for the anchorage site near Anchor Drive in the town of Newburgh: a one-acre peninsula on the Hudson River that has the potential to become a park. It would be the only public access to the river within the town and could be an access point for boats and fishing recreation. The town has negotiated a deal with the property owners at $1.1 million, much lower than the $2.2 million appraisal of the land.
"These opportunities don’t come up a lot, something on a river, especially a park,” said Councilman Paul Ruggiero. “I’m all for this. This could be our little gem within the town.”
“It opens up a whole new possibility for that end of the town,” added Councilwoman Betty Greene.