A Yonkers arborist who illegally cut trees in Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park to improve Hudson River views for private landowners has to pay sanctions valued at $64,000, according to a court-ordered settlement announced today by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The three homeowners who hired Robert Potanovic and his company, Potanovic & Sons Professional Tree Care, are not party to the settlement, but they reached a separate settlement with Potanovic over their involvement. They are collectively paying $24,000 toward the money Potanovic owes the state. Potanovic’s company is required to perform tree removal and other remedial work in park trail, as directed by the state parks department, and issue an apology letter (see below).
In early May 2005, three Yonkers homeowners on Rudolph Terrace with properties abutting the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park Trail hired Potanovic to “vista prune” trees blocking their views of the Hudson River and the Palisades. The tree company trespassed onto state park property and illegally removed the top portions of 34 trees.
State Supreme Court in Westchester County found in 2012 that the company’s illegal entry and unauthorized tree cutting violated state environmental and public, as well as trespassing law. The court-ordered settlement resolves the sanctions against Potanovic and his company. The national Tree Care Industry Association considers tree topping to be an unacceptable pruning practice.
“State parks and historic sites belong to the people of New York, and all New Yorkers suffer the loss when these resources are harmed,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “At the behest of homeowners looking to improve their view, this tree service trespassed onto the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, and killed or injured dozens of trees. Both the company and the landowners involved are being held accountable for these reckless and illegal actions.”
The Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park was created in 1968 and encompasses the northernmost 26.2 miles of the original 41-mile Old Croton Aqueduct, which provided drinking water to New York City until 1965. The park lies wholly within Westchester County, running from Croton George County Park in Cortlandt to the Van Cortlandt Park at the Bronx County/City of Yonkers border.