Locust Tress Spared The Ax – For Now

There was only one agenda item for the Mattapoisett Planning Board but one that touched a nerve with some of the residents who believe in the beauty and necessity of keeping North Street a designated “scenic byway”.

Walter and Cecile Callahan, 86 North Street appeared before the board along with Tree Warden Roland Cote and Highway Supervisor Barry Denham to present their reasons for requesting the approval to remove 11 locust trees from the property.

Cote noted for the board, who deferred to his expertise on this topic, that a cluster of natural growing locust trees were problematic for the homeowners and represented a safety hazard for them and other motorists.  He said that exiting the driveway of the property was particularly difficult because the trees didn’t allow a clear line of sight for motorists on North Street or the residents as they attempted to exit.

Denham offered that in his view many of the trees could be removed, as many as 9 which would allow for the best specimens to grow to their full glory accomplishing both what the residents want, which is better access to their property and what the scenic requirement is, keeping trees along North Street.

Cote said that many of the trees, which are presently tagged and several sprayed painted, should be removed so that the best ones could flourish.  Denham said, “They are just shading other trees.”  Both experts said that four trees should be kept but the rest harvested.  The wood could be recycled.  “It’s a pruning operation,” Denham stated.

However, Ruth Bates of Abbey Lane who is a former member of the tree committee felt she would be remiss if she didn’t come forward and question the sheer number of trees slated for removal.  “I agree that some should be culled”, she began, “but I find it troubling, I don’t like the persistent cutting down of trees…” She noted that the power utilities are in constant pruning mode along North Street and also said that unlike the village, North Street’s status as a scenic byway doesn’t seem to be as well respected.  She opposed the number of trees slated for the ax.  “I’m an advocate for the scenic bylaw that we have put in place.”

She went on to note that those trees were in fact honey locust some of which had been planted and not occurring due to natural causes.

The Board postponed their decision and continued the public hearing until August 5th, at 7 pm at the Town Hall conference room, giving them time to make a site visit before voting on the request.

After review and accepting of the minutes from the last meeting the board adjourned.

By Marilou Newell

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