Rolling Stone founder’s tree case gathers moss

After seven months of no communication, Red Hook officials are now requesting compliance from Jann Wenner and Matt Nye, whose application to cut trees on their riverfront properties has been languishing for more than a year.

Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, and his partner, Nye, own the 62.9-acre Teviot Estate on Davis Lane in Tivoli as well as the adjacent 19-acre property at 245 Woods Rd. The two applied in April 2012 for a special permit to remove 17 trees on the Woods Road property, where they also planned to raze the single-family home and construct a new one.

But a visit to the site by town planners later that month showed that tree cutting at Teviot, for which Wenner had a permit granted in 2008, had been much more substantial than permitted on the cliffside overlooking the Hudson River, prompting concerns about erosion above the railroad tracks in an ecologically sensitive and protected area.

Under State Environmental Quality Review Act, the planning board is required to consider environmental impacts on the properties together, though permits for those actions are applied for separately.

The issue was the subject of several planning board meetings in 2012 concluding with the board’s Oct. 15 meeting, which the applicants did not attend. The board discussed what information they would still require before acting on the special permit application. The result of that discussion was a letter to the applicants dated Jan. 2, 2013, requesting them to update the demolition plan of the Teviot tree removal to include the number and size of the additional trees that were removed. Under the permit Wenner received in 2008, he was allowed to cut only 53 trees, but the planners’ site visit showed many more had been removed.

The planning board planned to pass on the information to a landscape architect for advice on “how best to maintain the stability of the land, restore the appropriate historical landscape of the property, and provide river views.”

However, no response from the applicants was received, prompting the second letter dated June 27 from Red Hook zoning enforcement officer Bob Fennell.

Fennell wrote that Wenner’s management company, Teviot Properties, had “failed to provide the Planning Board with various documents to allow them to proceed with the review and approval of your application for a Special Permit in connection with the removal of trees that has taken place on your above parcel.”

The letter points out that the applicants continue to be in violation of Section 143-30 of town zoning law, which requires such a permit for tree removal within 1,000 feet of the Hudson River’s high water mark.

“You are hereby ordered and directed to comply with Section 143-30 of the Zoning Law of the Town of Red Hook and to remedy this violation on or before July 19, 2013, by providing these required documents to the Planning Board and to request to be placed on the Planning Board’s agenda to continue the review,” the letter concludes.

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