Article 28 (2023 Town Meeting)

Amend General Bylaws - Tree Bylaw - Increase Protected Tree Look-Back Period

Adopted on 3/20/2023 by a vote of 149-10-1

The purpose of this article was to tighten one loophole which some developers would use to bypass the Tree Bylaw.  As the Bylaw is currently written, a developer can remove all the trees from a property, wait one year, then apply for a demolition or new construction permit.  At that point, they can legally submit a tree removal permit application which accurately claims there are no trees on the property to be removed.  There will be no fees, no mitigation payments, and no replanting requirements.  In the past year alone, there have been a significant number of documented cases of this loophole being used.  When this amendment goes into effect, the "lookback period" will be extended to 36 months.  That is, any trees removed in the 3 years prior to a demolition or new construction permit will be subject to the Tree Bylaw.  Those trees can still be cut down without restriction, but the developer will have to plant new trees or pay a mitigation into the tree fund to compensate.  

Tree loss is a multifaceted problem, and the passage of this article is one small step towards strengthening our Tree Bylaw.