From SI Live:
Members of the Tompkins Circle Civic Association were surprised and concerned in late March when they observed workers removing vegetative undergrowth and then cutting down trees on the steep hillside that rises 80 feet up from the intersection of Van Duzer Street and St. Pauls Avenue to Tompkins Circle.
The vacant land is immediately adjacent to the neighborhood's century-old Stairway Street, and falls within the boundaries of the city-designated Special Hillsides Preservation District (SHPD).
This site is one of three tax lots that Pavilion Hill Terrace LLC owns and envisions for a new residential and commercial development called Pavilion Hill Terrace.
The city's zoning resolution that created the SHPD notes that one of the goals of the designation is "to reduce hillside erosion, landslides and excessive storm water runoff associated with development by conserving vegetation and protecting natural terrain."
Other goals are "to preserve hillsides having unique aesthetic value to the public," and "to guide development in areas of outstanding natural beauty in order to protect, maintain and enhance the natural features."
It is on these grounds that homeowners in the Tompkins Circle civic are furious about the removal of trees and vegetation on what they describe as a fragile hillside.
Community Board 1 and local residents informed the Department of City Planning that trees were being removed on the protected hillside site, an agency spokesperson informed the Advance on April 30.
"Removal of trees over six inches in caliper requires a (City Planning Commission) authorization, or demonstration to the Department of Buildings that they are a public safety hazard due to damaged or dying trees," the spokesperson explained.
"The Department of Buildings issued a violation against the property owner. To remove the violation, the property owner will need to submit a restoration plan subject to certification by the City Planning Commission," the spokesperson said.