Hazardous Tree Definition Change Sought by Nevins Couple

The Conservation Commission will examine trees in the buffer zone at The Nevins over-55 community and decide whether they can be deemed hazardous.

Peter Woodberry, representing The Nevins over-55 community, and Karen Aagegen and Steve Fineberg, new homeowners at The Nevins, asked the Londonderry Conservation Commission for permission to cut down trees within the buffer zone. They said the trees were close enough to their home to be considered dangerous.

Fineberg had asked Bartlett Tree crews to look at the trees and provide a report on their condition, as well as to provide a proposal for addressing the trees deemed hazardous to their property. Bartlett identified seven trees, but the couple were most concerned about a tree that is 11 feet from the house and reportedly threatens the bedroom. They also consider a second tree that is 15 feet from the home to be a threat to the bedroom.

Woodberry explained at the Commission’s Tuesday, June 28 meeting that in previous visits with the Commission about hazardous trees within the buffer zone – a no-cut  zone – the tree had to be dead to be considered hazardous. Woodberry expressed concern about the trees under consideration because while Bartlett Tree deemed them hazardous to the property, they are not dead.

Woodberry asked what the commission thinks about requiring a tree to be dead for it to be identified as hazardous, and said other homeowners have a similar situation. He said he would like a definition of “hazardous tree” to be developed so that he wouldn’t have to come to the Commission each time.

The Commission discussed the buffer and the easement line at The Nevins and acknowledged the buffer comes close to the homes. Members said a definition could likely be found that would allow designation of a hazardous tree even though it was not dead.

Commission member Mike Speltz said it would not be a good idea to modify the existing ordinance but added that a definition of a hazardous tree that didn’t require the tree to be dead could be found. He asked for time to find an appropriate definition and until then, he and member Julie Christenson-Collins would visit The Nevins to look at the seven trees identified by Bartlett.

The Commission voted unanimously to authorize Speltz and Christenson-Collins to visit The Nevins the next day and to act on behalf of the Commission regarding a decision to allow the homeowner to cut down the trees. The trees would be dropped in the buffer zone, with nothing removed from the property.

The homeowners also expressed a second concern about poison ivy and bittersweet growing on their property. They want to eradicate both but the rules don’t allow any use of chemicals on the properties.

Bittersweet is considered an invasive plant, and the Commission encouraged the homeowners to cut or pull it up by the roots. But poison ivy is native, and Speltz suggested two options: they could place clear plastic over the poison ivy area and leave it for an entire season, which would kill much of it, or hire someone to hand pull it out.