By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — A revised version of the Tree Preservation Bylaw is headed to Fall Town Meeting.
Planning Board Chairman Brian Charville said during last week’s Select Board meeting that the board has been working on the Tree Preservation Bylaw for nearly two years. He recalled that the Planning Board requested last October’s Town Meeting to indefinitely postpone the Tree Bylaw after the board and Planning and Conservation Department staff members heard a number of concerns from residents during the lead up to Town Meeting.
“We decided that we needed to get more citizen feedback, which we have done in the 10 months since,” said Charville. “It’s a much narrower Tree Preservation Bylaw compared to last year’s. We have paired it back substantially.”
If October Town Meeting approves the Tree Bylaw, Charville said the general bylaw would “only apply to building activities.” He said the proposed bylaw would apply to new subdivisions, clearing lots for a new home and “substantial renovations” to existing homes when a house would be enlarged by 50 percent or greater. He also said the Tree Bylaw would apply to requests for Special Permits, variances and clearing land for development.
“That’s it,” said Charville.
Charville said the revised Tree Preservation Bylaw seeks to protect trees that are at least 6-inches or larger in diameter when building activities will be occurring in zoning setbacks.
“If a person is undertaking building activities and trees are smaller than 6-inches in diameter, they can be cleared and the bylaw will not be triggered,” said Charville.
Charville said residents and developers who want to clear-cut trees that are 6-inches in diameter or larger would “have to choose one or two paths.”
“A land owner would have to come up with a replication plan or they can make a contribution to the town’s existing Tree Fund,” said Charville. “That contribution would be based on current market rates. For every inch cut that is 6-inches or greater, it will be an inch of replacement.”
If a landowner decides not to plant new trees, Charville said they can contact DPW Director John Tomasz, who is the town’s tree warden, about making a contribution to the Tree Fund.
“There is nothing in this bylaw that prohibits tree clearing,” said Charville.
Charville said a number of residents have expressed concerns about tree clearing to the Planning and Conservation Department over the last few years. He said the Sagamore Place subdivision that is currently being built on upper Main Street as well as the new Tuttle Lane subdivision that is currently under construction off of Summer Street has resulted in a number of trees getting cut down.
“These calls are mainly in conjunction with construction,” said Charville. “It’s usually developers clear-cutting the trees and not a neighbor clearing a lot. We would like to bring this to October Town Meeting.”
Select Board Chairman Dick Dalton asked what would happen if a resident wants to put in a pool that requires tree removal.
Planning and Conservation Director Emilie Cademartori said residents installing pools would be “exempt” from the revised Tree Bylaw.
“Putting in a pool for an existing home on a conforming lot doesn’t apply,” said Cademartori. “If a person needs a variance or a Special Permit for that pool, then it would apply. If that existing home were doubling in size by more than 50 percent, then it would apply. We have exempted existing homes from projects such as putting in a pool.”
In response to a question from Select Board member Phil Crawford, Charville said homeowners will be able to determine where the new trees will get planted on their property.
Select Board member Joe Connell commended Cademartori and the Planning Board for creating the revised Tree Bylaw. He inquired what would happen if a homeowner needs to remove a dying tree that could potentially fall down.
“A tree that poses a danger is exempt,” said Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Kate Flaws.
Tree Committee Chairwoman Jane Bandini said it’s time for townspeople to vote on the revised Tree Preservation Bylaw at October Town Meeting. The Planning Board originally submitted the revised bylaw for Spring Town Meeting in June, but the Select Board wanted the warrant article delayed until the fall session in order to have more time to review the proposal.
“We have discussed this Tree Bylaw ad nauseam,” said Bandini. “It’s about time we get to vote on it. It’s time that we bring this to Town Meeting and let everybody see what is going on. That is not too much to ask for people.”
Dalton commended the Planning Board for diligently working to revise the Tree Bylaw.
“There has been a lot of work that has gone into this,” said Dalton. “I think you have really listened to the feedback you have gotten from the public, which is great. We are looking forward to seeing the Planning Board’s warrant article.”