The Real Deal New York

Tree fees prove challenge to developers, homeowners

Affordable housing builders have been served six-figure bills for just one tree
November 30, 2014 11:00AM

Builders and homeowners claim they are being gouged by the Parks Department and MTA for tree removal and replacement.

Last year, the government agencies collected $2.7 million in tree fees, according to the New York Post. During that period, 275 trees were removed or damaged, averaging about $10,000 in restitution fees per tree, agency data shows.

“They’re robbing you without a gun,” said Staten Island builder Jerry Bivona, who told the Post that the Parks Department fleeced him over a rotten oak tree in Annadale last year.

Bivona said that he was quoted $58,000 to have the tree removed and replaced with numerous others. He was told that if he didn’t pay the agency he would have to plant 48 trees on his own and guarantee them for two years.

And builders who want to develop affordable housing have been hit with six-figure bills for as little as one tree, the Building Industry Association of New York City told the Post. [NYP] Christopher Cameron