Storms & Trees – Frequently Asked Questions

Stephen Coleman 
Environmental Coordinator/Town Arborist

Does the Town have a tree ordinance?
Yes. The Town does have a tree ordinance that regulates the removal of trees.

When a tree permit is required
If you anticipate having to remove trees, the Town does require a tree permit application for the removal of healthy trees. If the tree is completely dead, or presents a serious hazardous condition, no tree permit would be required. However, we strongly advise that you work with an Arborist to make this determination. The Town also reserves the right to evaluate the hazardous condition of the tree prior to removal. The Town requires a tree permit for removal of trees based upon the following criteria:
• Any clearing (10 or more trees).
• Within the regulated landscape buffer zone, any removal of a tree with a diameter of four inches or more.
• Outside of the regulated landscape buffer zone, any removal of a tree with a diameter of eight inches or more.
Please note that if you plan on removing healthy trees, the ordinance does include a tree replacement provision. The Tree Ordinance is Chapter 121 of the Town Code and the tree permit application and Chapter 121 can both be downloaded from the Town’s website.

Do you need a permit for general tree maintenance?
No. General tree maintenance including the pruning of snapped branches, limbs, etc., and normal pruning are also permitted without a tree permit.

Do you need a permit to remove trees that have significant storm damage?
No. Removal of trees that have significant storm damage (major limbs fall, and tree is not structurally sound, or uprooted, etc.) are permitted to be removed without a tree permit.

Where can residents bring storm damage related tree debris (branches, cut up sections of trees, limbs, etc.)?
Residents can bring it to the Town refuse and recycling department at Hunts Lane. Residents will need to provide proof of residency. Please be sure to not place tree related debris at the curbside, unless you are arranging for private pick up and disposal. The Town DPW will not be picking up any tree related debris that has been stockpiled along the road edge. Tree related debris that is left as a result of Con Edison work within utility wires, will likely not be picked up and disposed of by Con Edison.

Where is the Town right-of-way?
The Town maintains a right-of-way, which on average is approximately 25 feet on both sides from the center of the Town local roads. (Note- this distance may vary depending on road history, etc.)

Does the Town have a right-of-way on all roads?
No. The Town encompasses approximately 24 square miles, with over 50 miles of roadways with multiple jurisdictions, including New York State, Westchester County and the Town’s local roads. The Westchester County or New York State maintains the right-of-way on county & state roads.

Who is responsible for maintaining existing trees within the Town right-of-way?
Within the right-of-way of Town maintained roads, the Town is responsible for maintaining existing trees. In addition, the right-of-way usually includes existing utilities that are maintained by various utility services such as Con Edison, Verizon, Cable, etc. Regarding utility maintenance, these entities are responsible for management of trees within their wires. These utility companies (mostly Con Edison performs periodic and routine line maintenance of all of their utility lines throughout the Town. This involves tree pruning and removal of trees when determined a potential risk to utility wires. They also take care of any emergency removals associated with trees in wires.

Does the Town perform routine maintenance of trees within the right-of-way?
Yes. The Town performs routine maintenance of trees within the right-of-way that are not related to the utility company’s role and function. We routinely survey existing trees and remove trees that are considered hazardous within the right-of-way. We often rely upon residents to inform us of potentially dangerous or dead trees that may be within the right-of-way. The Town will review and assess and then if the tree needs to be removed, will either be removed by Town staff, or the work contracted to outside tree professionals. If you observe any trees that you are concerned with, please call the Department of Public Works at 914-238-3689.

Who determines if potential dangerous or hazardous trees are located within the Town right of way?
Our Town Arborist oversees the review of potential dangerous or hazardous trees that are located within the Town right of way and schedule work orders for ongoing removals and tree maintenance as needed. In addition to normal inspections where we may identify hazardous trees, we also rely heavily upon residents and DPW staff (out on roads) who let us know about potentially dangerous trees. Once we receive information about a tree, we perform follow up inspections, and if it is determined that the tree presents potential safety hazards, we make arrangements for removals and/or maintenance. On average, without major storm events, we remove approximately 100-125 trees annually. The evaluation of trees requires a lot of technical expertise and often a tree’s appearance can be deceptive. The outer appearance of a tree is not always the best gauge of the tree’s overall health. Our focus is to identify the trees that are the most hazardous and take care of those as efficiently as possible to minimize any safety concerns.

Who is responsible for trees not in the right of way?
Often the majority of trees that create power outages are from trees located on private property that are in close proximity to utility wires. Unfortunately, the Town does not have control over these trees. The property owner is responsible for these trees. Severe weather events illustrate the importance of proper routine tree maintenance, and we strongly encourage residents to have their existing trees properly managed and maintained by tree professionals. Prevention is often the best strategy for protecting your home and property. During storm events it is not possible to predict which trees will be impacted, often trees that cause problems have no outward visible signs that they are unhealthy or a hazard. Routine maintenance annually is one of the best strategies to hopefully minimize the potential impacts from trees being damaged during storm events.

What should I do if I have a tree that is interfering with the power lines?
Contact Con Ed: 1-800-75CONED (1-800-752-6633) or go to their web site 

Does Con Ed also have a tree trimming program?
Yes. Find answers to Con Ed’s most frequently asked tree-trimming questions here.

Does Con Ed also remove trees?
Yes. Con Ed has a Storm-Hardening Protection Plan. You can read about it here,