Court OKs Request to Cut Down Historic Tree
There are no immediate plans to remove the large oak at Cedar Lane and Palisades Avenue, however, court approval paves the way for future bidders.
A bankruptcy court Monday approved a request filed by the Union for Traditional Judaism seeking permission to cut down a large red oak tree at Cedar Lane and Palisades Avenue, a lawyer representing the UTJ said.
The tree has been at the center of a controversy after UTJ, citing safety concerns, tried to cut down the massive oak in July. A group of residents opposed removing the tree and the UTJ agreed to hold off until a sale of the property is finalized.
Although permission to cut down the tree was approved, the request was only made so bidders, who might want to remove the tree, won't feel locked in by the controversy.
"The UTJ and the ITJ do not intend to remove the tree until, at the earliest, after November 1, the date of the sale approval hearing, assuming the Bankruptcy Court approves their motion tomorrow and there is no safety issue," said Janice Grubin, an attorney with New York City-based Todtman, Nachamie, Spizz & Johns, who is representing the group.
Grubin said language would be drafted preventing the tree from being removed ahead of the Nov. 1 auction, if at all.
According to court documents, 333 Realty LLC submitted a $1.45 million bid for the property but later decided that the price was too high based on the ongoing controversy and economic climate. The UTJ has asked for a Nov. 1 auction with 333 Realty bidding $1.2 million for the property. Representatives of 333 Realty LLC could not be immediately reached for comment.
Last week, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) announced that the tree had been named to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection "Big Tree List" as the state's fourth largest red oak. Although the "big tree" recognition doesn't include any special protections, Weinberg said the oak was in good condition and should be saved.
"This tree means a lot to our community and its recent good health report and classification by the NJDEP confirms its historic stature and cultural significance to Teaneck and our state," Weinberg said in a statement. "The idea of taking this tree down is not going to go on without a fight from me."