Lakewood Ordinance Could Require Developers to Pay for Each Tree Cleared


lakewood-developmentZach Patberg reports: Opinions are split between developers and environmentalists over an unprecedented proposal by the township to tax builders for cutting down trees.

The ordinance would require developers to pay between $240 and $2,100 for each tree that they take down, not including application and inspection fees. They also would have to plant at least one tree for every felled one. Builders now pay nothing for clearing trees and only have a minor obligation to replace them.

The Township Committee could vote on the ordinance at tonight’s meeting, though the governing body likely will delay a decision in order to add amendments, officials said.Proponents of the measure see an urgency in protecting trees as Lakewood continues to expand.

“The ordinance hasn’t been updated in a number of years, and if we don’t do anything for our natural resources, we won’t have anything in the future,” said Michael Stillwell, who leads the township’s Shade Tree Commission. “The population is going to double and land is getting harder to come by.”

Yet opponents contend the proposal would only add another layer of bureaucracy and cost taxpayers as higher development fees trickle down. The township would have to hire at least one additional employee – a tree specialist – if the ordinance passes.

“It’s just another layer of taxation, creating another revenue stream coming ultimately from the homebuyers,” said developer Ralph Zucker.

Zucker said builders like himself could not afford added costs due to the state of the economy, meaning the burden would be on the residents.

The tree measure is modeled after an ordinance in Jackson that has been criticized as anti-development. Lakewood Mayor Steven Langert said the proposal needs work, and the amendments could include lowered fees.

{Zach Patberg-APP/ Newscenter}


  1. Chazal often speaks about the chashivus of trees, particularly fruit bearing ones…. Hashem has given us a beautiful world, treat it with care, love, concern and factor in the environment when making decisions.
    $$$$$ is always the bottom line decider!!! Oy vey..

  2. All these new developments have absolutely no shade and in the summer you can’t even go and sit in the playgrounds or in front of your house with your kids because it is too sunny.When they prepare a property for building, they just raze the whole lot including the trees. If they’d leave some trees and work more carefully (I know it will cost a lot more, I know) there would be some shade well before the many years it takes for full sized trees to grow.

  3. It is about time builders/ developers start considering whether it is necessary to cut down every single tree in sight before they start building…