If your outdoor projects during the pandemic include cutting down a tree, you’ll need to get a permit first–or face a fine and other costs. Township officials have issued five violations in recent days for cutting down trees without a permit, and the new rules enacted by the Town Council last year mean a minimum fine of $200 per violation. Homeowners also face the prospect of having to plant new trees to replace those taken down.
Last October, in a 3-2 vote, the Council approved the first significant revisions to Verona’s municipal code on trees in more than 50 years. To preserve the environmental benefits that come with trees, the ordinance made it unlawful to remove or trim more than 30% of any healthy mature tree without a permit. Any homeowner who needs to remove more than two healthy mature trees within a calendar year must get the approval of the Planning Board. The permit fee for two trees was set at $50, but the measure specified that no permit was needed if a tree had been found to be dead, diseased or a hazard. The tree ordinance requires homeowners to plant native trees as replacements or pay $400 into a replacement fund controlled by the town. Councilman Ted Giblin and Councilwoman Christine McGrath, who is the Town Council’s liaison to the Verona Environmental Commission, voted against the ordinance.
Homeowners who think they might need a permit should contact Engineering Manager Michael DeCarlo before cutting at 973-857-5246.
Town Manager Matt Cavallo says that residents who think a tree is being taken down unlawfully should make a report to the Department of Public Works during normal business hours at 973-857-4804, or call the Verona Police Department’s non-emergency number, 973-239-5000.