NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen Tuesday decided to spend $300 to remove five dead trees along a private road, despite Conservation Commission opposition.
Bob Houston, chairman of the Conservation Commission, spoke Tuesday against the Oak Hill Road subdivision’s request that the town or commission foot the bill to remove the trees. Because the road is private, and serves only the subdivision, Houston felt it was an improper use of his organization’s funds, which are meant to go toward stewardship of the land for the greater good of the town.
He was also frustrated that the subdivision’s residents made the request in the first place, since the construction of the private road, he said, was the cause of the death of the trees, based on their proximity to the pavement.
“It feels like a slap in the face, it’s disrespectful,” he said. But based on a Maine Superior Court decision made when the subdivision was approved, the land surrounding the private road is town property, making it the town’s responsibility to take care of the safety issue caused by those five dead trees.
No one from the Oak Hill subdivision was at the meeting Tuesday.
In the end, most selectmen agreed that the price was small for the safety gained by cutting the trees, and decided to spend town dollars, rather than commission funds, on their removal.
“The bottom line,” Selectman Mark Verrill said, “is if there’s liability, it’s my responsibility to take a look at it and take care of it before it becomes something more than it is now.”
Selectman Rob Wood agreed that because the trees are on town land, it’s town responsibility. “But $300 to $600 is not a lot of money,” he said.
The lowest of three bids came in at $300, with the highest at $600. Selectmen voted unanimously to spend the lesser amount to cut the trees, which will remain as they fall as part of the town forest landscape.
Wood added that in the future, it may make sense for the town to give the Conservation Commission a regular appropriation to deal with issues such as this, though the idea was not discussed by the board.
Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.