Borough Council to revisit tree ordinance

An attempt to remove some of the bureaucracy from a measure restricting homeowners from cutting down healthy trees

By: Marjorie Censer
   The Princeton Borough Council will revisit an ordinance tonight that would tighten restrictions on homeowners who wish to remove live trees from their properties.
   When council members first took up the ordinance in November, they said the limitations might be too onerous.
   The regulations, if introduced at tonight’s Borough Council meeting, would decrease the number of trees a homeowner can remove annually as of right from four to two, require permits for the removal of any tree greater than 16 inches in diameter, and better explain the standards for approval or denial of tree-removal applications.
   The ordinance would pertain only to live trees; dead, dying or dangerous trees are exempt from the regulations.
   The new version of the regulations reflects changes made by the Princeton Borough Shade Tree Commission, including a restructured format and a shortened review period.
   Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi had said the review period could be overly lengthy, and Councilman David Goldfarb said he was concerned that bureaucracy would delay borough homeowners. The revised ordinance automatically approves any application that has not been handled by the enforcement officer within 15 calendar days of its receipt. The previous version allowed an unconsidered application to be forwarded to the Shade Tree Commission for consideration at the group’s next meeting.
   If introduced, the ordinance would have a public hearing at the council’s Feb. 28 meeting.
   In other business, the council is expected to approve two-hour parking limits on both sides of Library Place, from Hodge Road to Cleveland Lane, and on the south side of Patton Avenue, from Harrison Street to Princeton Avenue. The council also will see a revised version of its new voluntary contribution agreement with Princeton University.
   Mr. Bruschi will advise the council to contribute borough capital funds to new playground equipment at Hilltop Park and to new lighting for the basketball courts at Community Park South, both located in Princeton Township. In a memo, he told the council that the borough’s share of the costs will be roughly $18,000 for the playground equipment and nearly $4,500 for the lights.
   Both parks are used by borough and Princeton Township residents, he wrote, and there is enough money in the capital budget to fund both requests.