WEST ORANGE, NJ — Several West Orange residents present at Tuesday’s township council meeting expressed concern about the many trees that were recently cut down at both the Shillelagh Club and St. Joseph’s Church. Approximately 13 trees were cut down at the church, and four at the club.

Resident Sally Malanga called for the creation of a Shade Tree Commission to work with the township forester, John Linson, to slow down the process of cutting down trees that still may have many years of life left in them even if they are beginning to show some root problems.

“No one person should condemn a tree,” said Malanga.

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Resident Joyce Rudin said the town’s tree ordinance should be revised to make it more difficult for property owners to cut down sound trees without a permit. She said that retroactive permits should not be given by the town for trees that have already been cut down.

Sayers said that no retroactive permits were given to either the club or the church, and both institutions were within their rights to cut down the trees under the current ordinance. He said that the current ordinance states that a property owner can take down three trees during a year without a permit, and this does not include damaged trees.

Mayor Robert Parisi said that the forester was aware of the tree issues at both the church and the club, and he determined that the trees would come down during a serious storm.

“Safety is paramount,” said Parisi. “The forester determined that the roots were damaged, and the trees were at serious risk of falling. There always has to be a balance between public safety and protecting the trees.”

Parisi said he would not be in favor of creating a Shade Tree Commission now because it might impinge of the rights of property owners to take down trees they no longer want.

“I believe allowing property owners to cut down three trees a year without a permit is fair,” said Parisi. “Of course, it’s up to the council to decide further.”

The Shillelagh Club has announced that it will be planting new trees to replace the ones that were cut down.

Pictured above, the council recognizes the W.O. PAL – 18U travel baseball team that plays in the High School Development League for being the Essex County Silver Tourney Champions.

Also pictured is Mayor Parisi introducing Dawn Donohue, who he appointed as the Municipal Judge of West Orange for a three-year term.

The next council meeting will be Sept. 5.