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Sayreville fine reduced for removal of trees

Trees in Millstone Park in Cranbury, on May 15.

SAYREVILLE – A fine against a Sayreville property owner for improperly removing trees has been reduced to $25,000.

The reduction in the fine against the Fulton’s Landing property was brought up during the Borough Council’s Nov. 8 meeting by resident Arthur Rittenhouse, who is the chairperson of the Sayreville Shade Tree Commission.

The area, also known as the Mocco Property, is 158 acres in size and currently vacant. It is located in the central portion of the borough, south of Main Street and north of the Conrail Railroad Raritan River Line.

Fulton’s Landing has been subject to land use applications and litigation for several years. In 2019, the council adopted an ordinance allowing for warehouse space to be developed on the property. Intended to prevent the development of residential units on the property, the ordinance was met with concern from residents over potential contamination on the site, the impact that the proposed warehouses may have on traffic, and other safety and quality of life issues.

In 2020, a $94,750 fine was issued against the Fulton’s Landing property for removing 250 trees as the result of construction activity without a proper permit.

Rittenhouse stated at the Nov. 8 meeting that he learned a settlement was reached in September and the fine was reduced to $25,000. Borough Attorney Michael DuPont acknowledged that an order was made to reduce the fine.

Rittenhouse expressed disappointment in the fine’s reduction.

“It’s very frustrating that some of these boards can either reduce a fine like that or make an exemption that trees are being cut down,” he said. “We have so much going on in town now and I’ve had a lot of calls as chairman of the Shade Tree as to what’s happening with all the trees. I’ve got to now check with each board to see if they’re making those exemptions or if the council is making those exemptions. I think it’s something we have to look at.

“Everybody’s talking about a green society and we’re just getting rid of all of the green and not doing anything to deter builders or homeowners,” Rittenhouse said.

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