The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 16, 2003


NStar gets OK to cut marked trees

It was a delectable chocolate and vanilla ice cream cake with the inscription "Thank You Kate" that administrative assistant Anja Stam presented to outgoing chair Kate Reid at the May 12 Planning Board meeting. Reid recently drew some chuckles at Town Meeting by observing that, "The Planning Board members currently serve a term of five years. It sounds like a prison sentence where you are condemned to serve a term of five years." She now took a few minutes to reflect with justifiable pride on her five-year term while board members, and an appreciative Mosquito reporter, enjoyed a slice of ice cream cake. This was followed by numerous accolades from around the room and Reid beamed at the appreciative group as they all joined in a round of applause.

Orange ribbons on scenic roads

The board hosted a joint public hearing with Carlisle Tree Warden (and Superintendent of Public Works) Gary Davis on a request to remove 837 trees in the public right of way under provisions of the Scenic Roads Bylaw. The scenic roads involved are Acton, Brook, Curve, East, Fiske, Lowell, Maple, Russell, Rutland, School, South, and West Streets, and North and Skelton Roads. Karen Doherty of NStar, the company responsible for all the orange ribbons tied around Carlisle's roadside trees, and her assistant, Nicole Sullivan, attended the hearing to explain NStar's objectives. "We try to be proactive," said Doherty. "We hope to increase the reliability of the electric system in town by standard trimming, hazard tree reduction, and removal of trees growing under NStar lines." NStar chips and removes all the cut trees and branches, but will leave logs for wood burning if the landowner so requests. "We avoid hack and wack," Doherty emphasized.

'Hack and wack' culprit

It was precisely the "hack and wack" that prompted Ed Humm of 776 East Street to attend the hearing. He had earlier observed workmen hacking and wacking pine trees fronting his property. "I saw them just breaking off branches that were in the way," Humm complained. "Jagged, nothing clean. They broke off the branches and left them lying on the ground." Since NStar is presently awaiting approval from this public hearing and thus has not begun their trimming efforts on East Street, the culprit was quickly identified. "Comcast! It's the Comcast crew stringing cable around town," exclaimed Doherty. Others agreed that NStar was innocent and Humm appreciated knowing where the blame should lie.

One lonely oak

The discussion eventually focused on one lonely oak tree on North Road, leaving the other 836 trees to suffer their fate without remorse. Gunilla Lacoche of 766 North Road believed that the large oak tree near her residence between poles 81 and 82 was needlessly tagged. Sullivan recalled the 24-inch diameter tree, and explained, "The tree was struck by lightning. The cambium has been damaged and the tree will eventually die." Lacoche was not convinced and revealed further that power lines have been nailed to the tree, which certainly presents a problem if you plan to cut the tree down. This brought reactions of amazement from NStar and Davis, since this is highly irregular and had gone unnoticed when the tree was tagged.

The accused tree threatened to drag down the public hearing until member Dan Holzman finally suggested, "We have to decide if the tree is an imminent hazard." If it were so decided, then there would be no other choice but to remove it - after carefully detaching the power lines, of course. The decision was left to the tree warden. "A 24-inch tree that has been struck by lightning should go," firmly announced Davis. Member Mike Abend moved to allow removal of all 837 trees, including the unfortunate oak, and the motion passed by a vote of 7-0.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito