The Planning Board voted to allow an Adams Road homeowner to try to save a tree obstructing the sight distance at the end of the property’s driveway.
Richard Flier, who is building a home at 43 Adams Road, said the healthy, 22-inch maple “has a future” and is an important feature of the State-designated Scenic Way.
Rather than cut down the more than 100-year-old tree, Flier asked the Board to allow him to remove the root that obstructs the sight distance by six inches.
“It would render the root ineffective. But if you chop out the root, it doesn’t mean the tree won’t live,” said Flier, who consulted with an arborist. “I’ll do whatever you want, it’s just a beautiful tree.”
Flier added he would write into his deed a commitment to maintain the root and continue to cut back any new growth into the sight distance.
“I want to save the tree because there aren’t a lot of them there,” he said. “We’ve saved the road the way it is because it’s beautiful and it’s special in our town.”
But Assistant Director of Public Works and Engineering John Trottier argued the site distance should be cleared to achieve the required amount.
“Looking to the west, they had to get a variance because there was a large oak tree that impedes the site distance,” he said. “He can put something in the deed saying it will be maintained, but how do you enforce that?”
“We have clear-cut rules and I think we have to follow that. I’m pretty knowledgeable about trees and shrubbery. I think if you take 6 inches out of the tree root, it’ll be a matter of time before that tree does die,” member Scott Benson said. “It’s a clear-cut rule, line of sight. We have to obey that.”
“I come from public safety, so sight distance is pretty important to me,” member Al Sypek said. “I agree with Scott. You can cut this or that out, but there’s no way to enforce in the future anything addressing this issue. The simplest thing is to just remove it.”
Member Ann Chiampa argued in favor of giving the tree a chance, noting the health of many other trees along the road is deteriorating.
“I’d love to give it a shot and if doesn’t work, so be it. But it’s a healthy tree,” she said.
Member Mary Soares agreed, proposing they also not cut into the root of the tree.
“This is 6 inches we’re talking about. There are so many places in town where the sight line is obstructed. I come out of the Home Depot parking lot and I have a hard time and we don’t make them take trees down,” she said. “And this is a scenic highway and we’re losing enough trees as it is.”
Soares additionally noted the driveway has served as an access for Mack’s Apples for years with no issue.
“I completely agree with Mary, I don’t think the tree should go,” member Ted Combes said. “I don’t think 6 inches is going to stop an accident from happening. I don’t think it’s reasonable to take this tree out.”
Several residents also urged the Board to allow the tree to remain untouched.
Russ Lagueux of 2 Fiddler’s Ridge said he has been driving Adams Road for more than two decades and that a location to the east, where there have been multiple accidents, is a more significant concern.
Soares noted there has not been an accident at Flier’s driveway in all the time Mack’s employees have been going in and out of the property.
“While they may not have been cars, there was daily traffic that went in every day working and there was more than one vehicle going in and out,” she said. “That is not the part of the road, as Mr. Lagueux said, where there is any issue.”
The Board agreed to give Flier the opportunity to cut the root in hopes the tree will remain healthy, but, if the tree dies, Flier agreed to remove it.