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Southold Town may restrict tree clearing on residential properties

A tree in Peconic cut down due to decay. (Credit: Jonathan Shipman)

Clear-cutting entire residential lots may soon be prohibited locally now that Southold Town officials are looking into the feasibility of restricting tree removal.

During Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Supervisor Scott Russell said he believes tree removal legislation should be drafted through the lens of the town’s drainage code, since clear-cutting properties affects the ground’s ability to absorb stormwater.

“Tree-clearing has community impacts — it’s not just private property rights,” he said.

The issue was brought up during the Town Board’s regular meeting May 17 when a Southold resident expressed his displeasure with new property owners clear-cutting their land.

Town attorney Bill Duffy suggested the Town Board review Huntington Town’s Tree Preservation and Protection Plan and East Hampton Town’s residential lot-clearing restrictions.

Councilwoman Jill Doherty said she agreed with a suggestion she recently heard from Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando, who proposed establishing a residential tree-clearing percentage limit.

Mr. Russell said the next step in addressing the issue includes having the town’s tree and code committees look into the feasibility of drafting a tree-clearing law.

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Photo: A tree in Peconic cut down due to decay. (Credit: Jonathan Shipman, file)