Thursday, May 26, 2016      
Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council

Resident Survey

As part of its review of Scarsdale's Tree Ordinance, your Conservation Advisory Council seeks to better understand residents' sentiment regarding trees, their maintenance, and removal.  This single page survey should take no more than a few minutes to complete.

We thank you for your participation!  Here is the link:

Survey Link

Who Are We?

The Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is an advisory body to the Village Board of Trustees. The Council studies issues affecting the local environment and also maintenance of the Village's "natural" character.  Issues may include open space, wetlands, trees, energy conservation, and other "sustainability" issues.

When Do We Meet?

The Council generally meets once a month on Wednesdays at 7:45 p.m. in a meeting room at Village Hall.  CAC meetings are open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend with the understanding that guests can speak only when invited to do so.

NEXT MEETING: Meetings currently are dynamically scheduled.  Contact us for more information

Who Serves on the Council?

As with all Village Board or Councils, the nine (full strength) Council members are volunteers appointed by the Village Board of Trustees.  The members serve for 2-year open-ended terms. They are:

Lee Fischman, Chair
John Auerbacher
Bana Choura
Bernard Kobroff
Ron Schulhof
Josh Stampfli
Duncan Wilson

Deb Pekarek (Village Board Liaison)

Current Work - Palmer/Secor Field to Meadow Conversion

The CAC proposes to transform an unused grass field at the corner of Palmer and Secor Roads into a native wildflower meadow, enhancing the aesthetic and natural value of the site, and potentially requiring less maintenance. This proposal is supported by Friends of Scarsdale Park, Inc. and is currently being evaluated by Village staff,

Secor and Palmer Field Meadow Conversion

Current Work - A Capital Investment Policy Based On “Sustainability That Pays for Itself”

The CAC is currently exploring the practicality of a Village policy whereby Village capital investments would be made with environmental return in mind, provided that the set of design and technologies chosen also pay for themselves.  This is in marked contrast to LEEDS certification, where economic payback has been debated.  This policy also is intended to provide a rationale for higher upfront investment, since debt can be serviced from future operational savings. The policy is also intended to be cognizant of site and use specifics that may make certain designs and technologies impractical; consideration of the "system" is urged rather than its components parts or any specific technology.  Our latest work is in this presentation:

A Capital Investment Policy Based on Sustainability That Pays for Itself

Landscape Guidance for Residents and Boards

During the CAC's research into the Village's tree ordinance, it became clear to us that the Board of Architectural Review lacks material to guide their evaluation of landscaping designs.  While our upcoming final proposals for revision of the tree ordinance provide some guidelines at the periphery of properties, it still would not provide landscape guidance. The CAC therefore considered what additional, explicit landscape guidance could be offered.

At the outset we decided against a rubric that would establish absolute grades, as we judged this too difficult and too restrictive. Instead we opted for a softer approach advocating progressive best practices. Landscaping is incredibly varied and complex, and so we've kept the guidance fairly general and minimal. A CAC member who has plenty of experience in the permitting process led us to understand that the earlier that guidance is provided, the easier and more likely it can be acted on. We therefore have suggested that this guidance be distributed when a permit is issued or applied for.

Although the circular that the CAC developed is simply guidance, which the landowner does not have to follow, it will be provided to the land use boards.  Village boards might therefore be conscious of it when considering a landscape design. We've also recommended the distribution of a circular developed by Westchester's Native Plant Center that provides a polished and exhaustive list of native plant options.

This is a primary source native plant database that can be used for planning, establishing and enhancing planting areas:

If you simply want recommended plants that are commercially available in this area:

For water smart design tips, see the link below.  When the next drought comes, it may be comforting to know you've done your part.

Exploring Village Leaf Collection Options

During 2013-2014, in support of Board of Trustee decision-making, the Council researched options for Village leaf handling. The CAC chose not to advocate a particular policy but to instead provide Trustees with a menu of options.  Numerous communities nationwide were surveyed and contacted, including all municipalities in southern Westchester. The CAC advocates that regardless of which option the Village chooses, leaf mulching outreach to residents be immediately stepped up.  Its rationale is that as changes in leaf collection policy will increasingly make residents open to alternatives, they should be educated in advance about leaf mulching, by far the most desirable leaf handling option.

CAC Leaf Collection Mitigation - Final.pdf

Unit Tree Study

This comprehensive study of the unit replacement standard was completed by CAC member Julie Weinstein. The study is available here:

Equivalent Tree Unit Proposal.pdf

Tree Ordinance Review

During 2012-2015, the Council has analyzed the Village's Tree Ordinance, producing a report and recommendations. 

2013 Initial report here.
2014 Update here
2015 Brief here

Has the Council Done In the Recent Past?

The Council has previously completed a long-term project to create an open space map of the Village and to write a report with recommendations about the preservation and use of open space in the Village of Scarsdale. The Council is currently reviewing the Village tree ordinance.  Future issues may include regulation of single-use plastic bags, local energy generation, resident education and other topics.

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