Friday, May 7, 2004
Town Meeting Amendment beefs up Scenic Roads Bylaw
Planning Board member David Freedman encountered some skepticism, but gained Town Meeting approval of a beefed-up Scenic Roads Bylaw. The amendment incorporates a state statute of the same name into the local bylaw, "to provide general procedures for the designation and maintenance of scenic town byways."
The heart of both the local and state legislation is a prohibition against the cutting/removal of trees or the dismantling of stone walls along roads designated by Town Meeting vote as "scenic," without adherence to set procedures. The Planning Board is empowered to establish rules and regulations to be followed for the public hearings and board consent required under the state statute.
Expansion of power?
Selectman Doug Stevenson, one of two Selectmen opposed to the amendment, expressed doubt about Freedman's assertion that nothing in the amendment expands the power of town government or impinges on existing rights. The presenter again emphasized that the wording of the proposed amendment already exists in the state law and that the board's aim is merely to provide easier access to the rules of the game for both the board and citizen petitioners.
Protecting town's right-of-way
School Street resident Charles Schweppe received the assurance he sought that the bylaw would apply only to trees in the right-of-way, but Freedman warned that the dimensions of that public territory varies from road to road. Also, under a second state law titled the Public Shade Tree Act, the prohibition against tree cutting applies to all roads except state highways and private ways and authorizes the municipal tree warden (DPW Supervisor Gary Davis in Carlisle) to oversee its enforcement. Although the local bylaw establishes no monetary penalties, the same is not true of that statute. "So," Freedman admonished, "If you want to cut down trees, you had better make inquiries with the Planning Board or the tree warden as to whether or not they are in a public right-of-way."
Shade Tree Act
Bonnie Miskolczy of Cross Street asked whether the Shade Tree Act also governed stone walls and how developers would be affected. Freedman replied that stone walls were germane only to the Scenic Roads Bylaw and that developers would be handled by the tree warden and the Board of Selectmen. To a final comment from Brook Street resident Nancy Weiss that she hoped safety would be considered, particularly where narrow roads were involved, Freedman confirmed that the hearing process would still apply, but that public safety would certainly be a major consideration.
Following statements of support from the Historical, Conservation, and Bike Pedestrian Safety Advisory Commissions, the recommended bylaw amendment passed easily.
© 2004 The