Thursday, May 28, 2009

Supreme Court overturns lower court, gives New Jersey towns right to make residents and developers pay into fund when removing private property trees

Want to cut down your tree? - South Bergenite:
(by Michael Lamendola - May 27, 2009)
In the future, it could cost big bucks
Towns statewide now have free reign to charge residents and developers who take down trees on private property and do not replace them so new trees can be planted elsewhere within town borders on public land, preserving town canopies.
The decision came by way of a Supreme Court ruling last week, stemming from a lawsuit brought forth by the New Jersey Shore Builder's Association, which challenged an ordinance passed in 2003 by Jackson Township that enabled the town to create an escrow fund, charging between $200 and $800 per tree that was brought down. The fund was established to help the township maintain its tree stock, replacing those that went down with others in town parks or other township-owned properties. In 2004, the New Jersey Shore Builder's Association filed suit to deem the ordinance invalid and was successful in gaining a ruling deeming the ordinance invalid by a trial court in 2005. The association contested that the ordinance applied a false tax and was just implemented to raise extra revenue for the township. Soon after, an appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision. In last week's overturning of the lower courts' decisions however, the Supreme Court judges said the ordinance would "serve broad environmental goals."

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