A contractor working on behalf of Donald Trump's Seven Springs estate in North Castle removed trees on an adjacent property that is owned by Mount Kisco, Village Manager James Palmer said.
Palmer bases his findings on a Jan. 9 site visit of the village's property - it is adjacent to Byram Lake and the estate, and includes a steep western cliff down towards the lake - along with photographs from before and after Hurricane Sandy.
Seven Springs maintains that changes in the landscape were related to Sandy, Palmer said, but he contends that there was deliberate tree removal on the village's land. The property is contiguous to Trump's, starting 185 feet from the eastern building line of a mansion that overlooks the lake. The mansion can be seen from Byram Lake Road, and Palmer says that it is now more visible due to the tree removal.
Seven Springs, a large property of 213 acres, is located in parts of North Castle, Bedford and New Castle. It is the former estate of Eugene and Agnes Meyer, the owning family of The Washington Post. Trump bought the property in 1995 for $7.5 million, according to published reports.
Mount Kisco owns Byram Lake, which is located within Bedford and North Castle. The lake is used as a water supply for the village, along with some residents of New Castle and Bedford. The adjacent village property serves as a buffer space and is in the lake's watershed.
Losing trees is an issue, Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich explained at Monday's Village Board of Trustees meeting, because of the possibility for erosion of steep slopes adjacent to the lake.
Cindrich said, “our primary goal" is "for the preservation of the watershed.”
Palmer wrote a letter, dated Monday, to Deborah Stellio, the general manager of the property. In it, Palmer stated that compensation will be sought for the lost trees, replacement work and slope stabilization. He also warned against trespassing on the site, and is requesting access through Seven Springs so that a surveyor can come up to mark out the lines between the properties, which could be done "as early as next week." The village's property, with its odd topography, is done by passing through the estate.
Any legal rescourse that Mount Kisco could take would be civil in nature, although North Castle could penalize Seven Springs through its town code. Palmer did not know if North Castle has issued any violations. Palmer said that North Castle is aware of the issue.
Attempts to reach North Castle officials who would handle such matters were not successful. People connected to Trump who have taken various roles in the estate, including Stellio and his son, Eric, could not be reached for comment.
Trump has multiple brushes with controversy of Seven Springs. In the early 2000s he proposed a golf course for the site, according to media reports, which ignitied protest locally due to fear about contaminated runoff harming Byram Lake. Trump scrapped the plan, and is now seeking to build seven mansions on the Bedford side. Preliminary approval for the houses was granted by the town's planning board, Bedford Director of Planng Jeffery Osterman told Patch, which several conditions needing to be met for the board to grant a final approval.
There are no announced plans to develop the North Castle or New Castle sides of Seven Springs. In recent years, Trump battled a group called the Nature Conservancy, which owns nearby North Castle land, over whether he had an easement right to a portion of Oregon Road that is connected to the group's site. The dispute was in state court from 2006-12, with the conservancy prevailing last year in an appellate ruling that stated he did not have such a right. The conservancy's land were once owned by the Meyers, who transferred it to Yale University in 1973, who in turn transferred it to the group.