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Long Island Residents Stumped Over Removal Of Trees

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ALBERTSON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — More than a dozen 70-year-old trees were suddenly chopped down in a┬áLong Island neighborhood, and now residents, stuck with unsightly stumps, are demanding answers.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the trees — sycamore, oak, elm — served as a buffer to traffic, providing color, shade and comfort along busy Searingtown Road in Albertson.

But a crew recently chopped down 13 trees.

“To take these trees down, it’s just really upsetting,” said Rashmi Iyer, of Albertson. “It’s heartbreaking.”

“They didn’t really ask anything,” said resident Michael Constantino. “They didn’t double-check with us.”

Residents wondered if PSEG Long Island was using the ax because new power poles were going up. The utility, however, explained it had nothing to do with removing the trees, that the county or town was responsible.

“I have a neighbor — in fact, she was so overwhelmed that she was crying,” said Albertson homeowner Nathan Iyer.

Pacifico Fortunato said he lodged a complaint that sidewalks have become a hazard because of huge tree roots. The next thing he knew, tree cutters showed up.

“The stump is still there,” Fortunato said. “They didn’t go deep enough.”

He said roots can be cut and new sidewalks built without taking down an entire tree.

Homeowner Yallappa Somareddy said he’s concerned that he’s going to be saddled with removing the stump.

“On top of that, it looked so nice out,” he said. “The reason? I don’t know why they cut it.”

Despite that the trees were on county property, the town insisted it will assume the cost of removing the stumps.

The town of North Hempstead explained the tree removal as a safety issue, claiming the county recently took down the trees for the town’s new sidewalk project. Nassau County, however, denies involvement.

Environmental activist Richard Brummel said after the county unnecessarily removed hundreds of trees after Superstorm Sandy, citizens in Albertson deserve explanations.

“Take some kind of investigative and enforcement action to protect what is essentially the public’s property,” he said.

Residents are now lobbying the county, town and PSEG to replace the trees once sidewalk repairs are made.

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