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Essex County Freeholder Mtg July 10: $1.2 million for Zoo amphitheater ???

West Orange, NJ 07052

Environment & Resident Advocacy Organization

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$600,000 for "design services" of the proposed Turtle Back Zoo Amphitheater?

South Mountain Reservation Proposed 500-1000 person amphitheater!

People who care about the South Mountain Reservation should come to these two meetings and SAY NO to the Turtle Back Zoo overdevelopment of the Reservation. $600K of our OPEN SPACE TRUST FUND MONEY  is proposed for the design of a 500-1000 person amphitheater in South Mountain Reservation. 

July 7th, 5pm

Essex County Open Space Mtg.

Turtle Back Zoo Park and Ride Conference room

Essex Ctr Freeholder Agenda
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West Orange Resident & Tree Company plead guilty to violating Tree Ordinance; Hefty Fines

Additional Information

West Orange residents had a good day in Municipal Court, this afternoon. OGWO reported and Livestreamed on May 10, 2019 a massive tree cutting incident in the Woodland & Forest Ave area of the Redwood section of West Orange. A homeowner hired a tree company to remove trees, all without a permit. Thanks to an alert neighbor, the police and township forester were called. The incident was streamed on Facebook as the towering Red Oaks were being cut and loaded onto a logging truck. (The owner of the tree company, Nick Whitmore, performed a little taunting dance for the camera, while another employee laughed and filmed the residents who were documenting the destruction.)


Councilwoman McCartney stated at the June 26th Environmental Commission meeting (the night before the court hearing) that the homeowner is a friend of hers, and that her friend wasn’t home at the time. "She only wanted 3 trees removed but the tree company took all of the trees in the front." This is all false. The homeowner was home and claimed she had a permit. The contract for the tree cutting was not for 3 trees, but nearly a dozen. Our Town Forester stated at this same meeting that there are ADDITIONAL trees the owner would still like to remove. 


In Court:

Overall, the township counted 9 trees cut without a permit. (Originally OGWO counted 11 trees, but the Twp Forester stated that one tree was dead, and two shared the same root system.) They issued the homeowner 6 separate summons - one for each tree cut illegally - and “gave” the homeowner the remaining 3 trees as part of their 3 allowable tree cut/365-days. (Although the homeowner still should have filed for a permit, or at least a tree removal report afterwards.) From that total of 9 trees, the Forester reassessed the trees illegally cut to 6. All trees cut were mature, healthy Red Oaks. The township also issued the tree company, Bigfoot Tree Service, 9 summons, as well, but dismissed 3 summons’ for the same reasons as stated above.


The presiding judge was Judge Dawn Donohue. The prosecuting attorney for the township was Richard Trenk, who negotiated with the homeowner and the tree company for fines and actions as a result of the tree May 10th incident. The Township recommended fines for the homeowner of $250 per tree removed illegally. The Township recommended $583 per tree for the tree company. Also recommended were mandates that both parties adhere to, including additional fines if they were found in violation of those mandates set forth by the court.


Judge Donohue listened to the parties’ defenses, and asked each of them questions. The judge made some points for the record, such as in her 2-years as municipal judge in West Orange, she has never received so many letters from residents regarding this hearing. Thirty-two letters total, most all expressing their anger and sadness for the plaintiffs’ actions. She read excerpts from some of the letters, including from a 90-year old neighbor who felt so much sadness as the trees in their neighborhood were being destroyed. The judge stated “What you did really hurt your community, and your neighbors.” She noted the homeowner’s remorse, but stated she should really apologize to her neighbors. The judge pointed out the irony of the property sitting in the Woodland and Forest Avenue area. The judge came down particularly hard on Bigfoot Tree Service, showing little mercy as she spoke to the owner. She read directly from our Township Tree Protection and Preservation Ordinance, and was not impressed with the owner’s excuse why he did not file for permits. (A resident gave a document to the prosecutor showing the company website’s statement about checking for proper permitting.) The judge confirmed for the record that the homeowner paid $3,500 for all the trees to be removed. 

Court Ruling

The homeowner and Township agreed to the following:

-$300 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #1

-$300 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #2

-$300 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #3

-$300 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #4

-$300 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #5

-$300 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #6

-Homeowner may remove 1 additional tree to complete their new fence

-Homeowner may not cut any additional trees for 2-years

-Homeowner must plant 6 new Maple or Oak trees, measuring 2” dbh in front yard by October 15, 2019

-The new trees must survive 2-years

-If homeowner violates the tree ordinance again within the next 5-years, they will be fined $1,500 on top of the fines issued by the Township


Big Foot Tree Service and Township agreed to the following:

-$700 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #1

-$700 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #2

-$700 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #3

-$700 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #4

-$700 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #5

-$700 fine + $33 court fee for Red Oak #6

-If company violates the West Orange Tree ordinance again within the next 5-years, they will be fined $15,000 on top of the fines issued by the Township

West Orange Tree Ordinance

Township Targets neighborhood trees for removal

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If you see markings like these on WO trees...

Our Township Forester eludes to the township not having enough money to trim, prune, and save our town's giant residents. Instead, the township is resorting to completely removing these trees. Some may pose a danger because of dead limbs, while others may be lifting sidewalks, growing amongst power lines, or disturbing street curbs. There are many ways to resolve these issues that do not include total destruction of our canopies and historic trees. If the tree is not viable, then by all means it should be removed.

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Neighborhoods in West Orange are Losing Trees

Touring West Orange streets, marking on dozens of trees can be seen. These two trees are on the Township's destruction list. (Which will be made available here on this site ASAP.) The tree on the left is indeed not viable, and should be removed. The tree on the right is healthy, thriving, and adds value to the properties on the street. [Location is across from West Orange High School, on Greenwood Avenue.]

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Visiting the Trees Helps Understand the Loss

An OGWO member and town resident visits neighborhood trees marked for removal. OGWO knocked on doors, informing residents of the trees marked for removal on their street. Residents should contact the township forester to express their concern, and urge the township to save these trees. Contact John Linson, Forester@WestOrange.org, or call 973-325-4015. We have the budget to cut these trees, we must have the budget to prune and save them!

THE LATEST WEST ORANGE PROJECTS

Woodland Ave Tree Removal

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OGWO responded to a home on Woodland Ave., Friday, May 10, 2019 to document and question why 11 healthy trees were being cut. The responding police officer reports that there were no tree removal permits issued, verified by WO Town Forester. (Complete story above.)

150 FREE Trees Handed Out

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OGWO and an enviro-passionate  Roosevelt Middle student handed out and planted 150 trees for free to West Orange seniors, and then to interested residents. Please visit our Green tab for photos from the event!

Essex Green Shopping Ctr

Lauren Holden of Clarion presents plans for Essex Green Shopping Center.

On Thursday, April 11th West Orange residents lost in their efforts to require Clarion Partners, LLC to provide a sustainable, green, & safe Essex Green Shopping Center. 

See Part 1 of the ZB meeting

See Part 2 of the ZB meeting.

WO Library Blighted?

Bird's Eye view of the West Orange Public Library.

Here we go again! The township of West Orange had a study completed as a part of the twp's initial steps to designate the WO Public Library as an Area in Need of Redevelopment. (AINR) Similar to the Downtown Main Street Project, and the Essex Green Shopping Project, this designation could mean BIG $$$ for potential developers, as well as a significant loss of tax revenue to help keep West Orange affordable. On March 6th, 2019, the Planning Board agreed that the library is blighted. The following week, the Town Council majority agreed. 

What is NOT blighted in West Orange?

 Read the report 

Rock Spring Country Club

Bird's eye view of Rock Spring Country Club

West Orange residents are the new owners of Rock Spring Country Club, located at 90 Rock Spring Rd. 138-acres for  $12 million. Help fellow residents keep their eye on how well the Mayor follows through with his "gentleman's agreement" that the property will not be developed more than the 15-acres he has stated. This means attending Planning Board meetings, Open Space meetings, Environmental Commission meetings, Town Council meetings, and Zoning Board meetings. (It also means rounding up neighbors to assure everyone is keeping a close eye on those "guarantees"!)

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What's With WO Taxes?

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What's up with WO Taxes & the Mayor's proposed 2019 Budget? How will it effect you?

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Badabing: Family Ties

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Curious about the WO power structure? How do the dots connect in West Orange?

family ties

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Our Green West Orange

West Orange, NJ 07052, US