Keyword Site Search

Land Clearing

"In New Jersey, the Wetlands Act with its associated buffers, the Highlands Act and Pinelands Act, to name a few, have prohibited the rightful landowners any enjoyment of their land, other than to pay taxes on it." -- Martin L. Sikorski, PLS, CLA, PP, CPSI

I am writing in response to the "Land Clearing" article by Mr. Abbey (see LASN Nov. issue, pgs. 18 and 96 on I live and work in northern New Jersey and parts of southern New York. Development regulations have been around for many years in these areas. They were at one time reasonable, their goal being to prohibit the wanton rape of the land, while still allowing the rightful owners the enjoyment of their land. Mr. Abbey's statement, "Many people believe that everyone has a stake in private property," makes me very nervous. In the context of Mr. Abbey's article, this statement should make most landowners nervous. A good amount of the land that's use is now restricted was purchased before any of these acts existed. The purchaser's rightfully believed they would have the enjoyment of their land.

Mr. Abbey also writes of ordinances and laws that govern or totally restrict the use of wetlands, the habitat of threatened and endangered species and the degradation of streams and water quality. In New Jersey, the Wetlands Act with its associated buffers, the Highlands Act and Pinelands Act, to name a few, have prohibited the rightful landowners any enjoyment of their land, other than to pay taxes on it. If you refer to Black's Law Dictionary, what the state of New Jersey has done is "taken" the right of the enjoyment of the land without just compensation. Some people may say, "So what?" If one takes another step to find out about "takings," they may wish to look to the Constitution of the United States of America. The 5th Amendment, among other things, specifically prohibits the "taking" of a person's land without just compensation. I support the Constitution with the rights and responsibilities it grants and requires. As do the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have, over the centuries, fought and died to protect it. To the best of my knowledge, none of the previously mentioned acts have any provisions for providing just compensation for "taking" a person's land. The proponents of these and similar acts may say, and rightfully so, the political body is not "taking" the title to the land in fee simple.

(Editor's note: "Fee simple means absolute ownership of land, i.e., the owner may do whatever he or she chooses with the land.)

However, if you understand the title or fee simple can be likened to a bundle of sticks with each stick being a right, such as to build a home, farm or otherwise use the land for one's benefit, then the rightful owner is left with two sticks out of the bundle and that is to own it and pay taxes. I doubt Mr. Abbey would support the right of the public to enter his home, eat his food and sleep in his bed. After all, these things are his private property. Yes, everyone has a limited stake in the use of all land. We need thoughtful and just rules to govern the development of the land. How far can the government, environmental groups or simply NIMBYs go in denying people their Constitutional rights. Contrary to what you may now think, I do support all of the previously mentioned acts, but there must be a provision for just compensation. If a city dweller wants the use of my rural property to be restricted so they may enjoy driving through it on the weekend, there must be a mechanism for that city dweller to contribute to my just compensation. Please, let's put some justice and reason into these acts before a large enough group of landowners file suit to stop these "takings' and sets the environmental movement back decades. Possibly, a reasonable position may be to take a seat on the fence, at least temporarily, and honestly look at both sides of the environmental issues we face, then act in a just and reasonable manner for all parties involved.

Martin L. Sikorski, PLS, CLA, PP, CPSI
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
Edison, New Jersey

Professor of the Year
Re: George Curry, RLA, Carnegie Foundation's N.Y. "Professor of the Year" Wade Hall, RLA writes:

Prof. George Curry, RLA, SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Syracuse, N.Y.

Congratulations Professor Curry on a well deserved award. It is so nice to see someone so deserving being recognized at the highest level. You were far and above my favorite professor during my four years (second through fifth year) in ESF's Landscape Architecture program for many reasons, not the least of which were your passion for the field of landscape architecture and its role in dealing with the challenges facing our environment, your enthusiasm in sharing your passion with your students, the personal interest you displayed in each student, and the skills displayed converting what you taught into practical application in the real world.

Thank you so much for all you meant to so many of us who never really had the opportunity to express our appreciation. The committee made a wonderful choice honoring you for all you have meant to the significance of landscape architecture's role in enhancing our environment.

Wade Hall, RLA
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, N.Y. (class of '73)
Senior Landscape Architect
Schenectady, N.Y.

Diseased Elms
Re "Diseased Elm Trees at Penn State", Juana Trafecanty writes:

I just wanted to add information that we have recently removed 18 American elms that were part of our historical landscape. These had been topped in the 1960s and caverns had collected water, which started a fungal/decay activity in branches. We worked with Valley Crest, in Sunol Calif. to grow wonderful 'Princeton' variety American elms, which we planted in summer 2008. They are great trees! This is in case anyone at Penn State wishes to replant with some elms in key areas? Best of luck.

Juana Trafecanty
Director of Grounds
Scripps College, Chino Hills

Search Site by Story Keywords

Related Stories

May 26, 2019, 3:14 pm PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.