Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with Wayne Amaral, DPW Director and Town Tree Warden
West Newbury's DPW Director, Wayne Amaral, also serves as the Town Tree Warden. You may contact the Tree Warden by email at: email@example.com or by phone at (978) 363-1100, ext.120.
1. How are trees identified as hazards and become candidates for removal? Tree Warden Response: There is really no one uniform definition for a high hazard tree although there are some general principles that are used by arborists and tree wardens. General guidance provided to the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen states:
To gain a better understanding of a High Hazard Tree, it is important to define this tree designation. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 87 - Shade Trees Law, defines the limitations and responsibility of a Tree Warden. Section 5 of this chapter states, “Nothing contained in this chapter shall prevent the trimming, cutting or removal of any tree which endangers persons traveling on a highway.” A Tree Warden would describe this type of tree as a High Hazard Tree and can authorize the removal of any tree that meets the definition of a High Hazard Tree. I define such tree as a tree with one or more of these characteristics: a dead tree, a tree with major dieback (showing signs of 40% or greater), an unbalanced tree that presents a hazard, a tree with major trunk damage, a tree with insect infestation that has permanently degraded the health of a tree, or any tree that shows signs of significant disease.
2. Can I remove a healthy or unhealthy tree from my private property? Tree Warden Response: Absolutely, there are no restrictions in the Town of West Newbury that limits a tree from being removed from private property by the property owner.
3. If I think a tree is dangerous and the tree is on public property in front of my property, can I request the town remove the tree? Tree Warden Response: A resident can contact the Tree Warden and request one or more trees to be inspected for potential health or hazard concerns. If the tree is deemed unhealthy (high hazard tree), the Tree Warden will place the tree onto a removal list and schedule the tree to be removed in the future. There are currently over 250 trees on this list with a five-year plan to remove at least half of these trees by the end of five years.
4. The tree in front of my house is dropping branches and limbs. Is the tree sick or dying and should the tree be removed? Tree Warden Response: This level of concern is usually not warranted. Trees drop dead branches and limbs as they grow and age. This is natural and expected and is not, by itself, a cause for concern. However, repeated and frequent loss of tree limbs may be a signal of disease. Professional arborists should be contacted to assess the health of any tree on private property.
5. A tree on public property in front of my property has been deemed by the Tree Warden to be healthy and NOT a high hazard tree. However, I want the tree removed anyhow. How do I do this? Tree Warden Response: A homeowner cannot, by him or herself, remove a tree on public property without going through a legally-mandated process. All trees located on the public right-of-way are covered under the M.G.L. 87 Shade Tree Law and the Scenic Roads Bylaw adopted in West Newbury in 2000. Under this law, a healthy tree can still be removed from public property but only after a public meeting is held and subsequent affirmative vote by the Planning Board is obtained.
6. Is there a replacement plan for trees that are removed, or any tree planting projects on the horizon? Is there a tree policy in Newburyport that limits cutting for developments or even just additions on single lots? Some towns have some very stringent policies that require replacement of trees of a certain diameter. Tree Warden Response: We have no DPW tree replacement program at this time. Newburyport has this type of program, which is led by the Tree Commission, funded by the city, and supported by the Tree Warden. Such a program can entail significant costs due to watering requirements and time commitments by DPW or other town staff. The West Newbury Tree Committee is aware of this type of program and will be evaluating if and how to go about introducing it into West Newbury.