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Letters to the Editor: Clear Cutting on Village Property

November 03, 2009

To the Editor:

As Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

The quote comes to mind when I think of the people who move into the area because of its scenery and then proceed to desecrate and destroy for what they see as their own private good. For a long time people have been getting their neighbors to cut down or mutilate their trees so they can have a wide, unimpeded view of the river.

That, unfortunately, is not officially a crime. Other acts are: A few years back, a property owner on Taft place clear cut the slope above the Dock Hill stream, and this past summer, right in my own Cliffside Park neighborhood, some anonymous vandal cut trees helping to hold up an even steeper slope, one that over the years has become seriously unstable from natural erosion.

These last two acts were done in violation of the village law protecting steep slopes, and on public property--village property! Property that belongs to you and me! The latest instance of clear cutting on public land happened last winter or spring, when a large swath of trees was cut on Round Top, on a slope west of Mountain Road, south of the Boulevard. It’s the area just below the glass house, the one you can see from Storm King Mountain, standing out like pimple on a shaved head.

We’ve always had people around here that could afford to commit acts like this, but the ones we’re used to, like the Stillmans, valued natural landscapes and trees, and didn’t feel the need to skin the hillsides, for whatever reason. They understood that trees don’t block the scenery; they are the scenery. That’s why you can walk around on the Boulevard and Deer Hill and Maple Roads and revel in the natural unspoiled woodsy-ness of it all, within sight and sound of a clear, un-silted stream.

People who destroy public property are diminishing our quality of life. In this case, the destruction they cause is especially egregious because with the deer overpopulation the land cannot heal itself. Despoilers like this deserve punishment, just like any criminal, but since they do their work where and when nobody’s watching, they get away with it.

Not angry yet? Click on Fallen Trees under Photos of Our Town.

Barbara Farabaugh


So that explains the bald spot on the hill. I first noticed this a couple months ago (we live on 218 with a view across the Donohue's property looking up towards Round Top and SK Mountain). I was upset that someone would make such an enormous alteration to the landscape but I assumed that whoever owns that glass monstrosity - also owned the land and decided to clear cut for their view which I also assumed was their legal right.

Are you saying that this was VILLAGE land that was clear cut??? How is this legal? IF that is the case there absolutely should be a HUGE outcry about this. Why has there NOT been action by the Village? If we have a ridge protection law that prevents building on a ridge, and a steep slope law that prevents cutting on a ridge, then why is this not being investigated and enforced??? Especially if this is VILLAGE property. We should be demanding answers.

posted by Chuck Trella on 11/04/09 at 12:25 PM


While I agree with you, I wouldn't get too upset as that "glass monstrosity" is owned and I am almost 100% positive by a local attorney. I'm sure he has his i's dotted and t's crossed. Might not make it morally right but that's the world we live in.

posted by P W on 11/09/09 at 6:22 PM

Agreed Pat. As long as he didn't cut on Village property then - much as I wouldn't like it still - it's his property and his prerogative. It seems from the letter though that Barbara is accusing him of cutting on Public Property. It seems from Google Maps that Roe Park abuts that houses property. I would hope if he is a lawyer he was careful to stay on HIS property. But even lawyers screw up. So I'd be curious to see if the Village has investigated this at all. Mayor? Rick? Anyone?

posted by Chuck Trella on 11/10/09 at 4:34 PM

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