LINCOLN, Maine — A McGregor Road resident will avoid fines of as much as $2,500 a day after developing a plan Thursday to correct environmental issues on her property caused by the removal of at least eight healthy trees, a town official said.
Zenda Fiske of 216 McGregor Road will plant an as-yet undetermined number of 5- to 6-foot trees over the next month on her property along Upper Cold Stream Pond, Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis said.
“I am looking at at least 15, possibly more,” Davis said Thursday, “and shrubs.”
“The homeowner is very cooperative and actually responded to me before the letter of violation got there,” Davis added. “They found my card in their door and responded responsibly. They owned up to what they did, and I will work with them to correct the situation.”
The tree removal was in blatant violation of Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulations requiring that setbacks from shorelines to buildings remain untouched except for dead or dying trees, Davis said. He called it “a huge violation.”
A flood of 14 telephone calls from nearby residents, a camp owners association, and other residents who heard of the tree felling alerted Davis to the problem, he said.
Backed by DEP officials, Davis used photographs he took five years ago of the shoreline and visited the property to prove that the trees had been cut illegally, he said. The photos are kept in a database used by town officials for that purpose.
The trees and other vegetation are regulated by state law because the growth helps keep the water free of pollutants. Setback maintenance is crucial to maintaining the quality of water in lakes. Under state law, residents have 15 days to correct or provide a plan for correcting violations or they could face fines of $100 to $2,500 a day and civil court action, Davis said.
Fiske was installing a silt fence Thursday on ground left exposed by the loss of tree cover to prevent erosion — a good move, Davis said.
Davis expects to determine the number of trees to be planted by using a DEP formula. That should happen next week, with tree plantings occurring within a few weeks of that, he said.
Davis encourages residents who know of possible violations, or landowners who want advice on tree cutting or shoreline maintenance, to contact him at 794-3372. He will be speaking to the Upper and Lower Cold Stream Pond Camp Owners Association on that topic in a few weeks.
Shoreline inspection is a big part of his job, but with 13 lakes and ponds, plus the Penobscot River and several smaller streams running through Lincoln, Davis said he knows he cannot be everywhere at once.