Orrington’s plan to cut down trees concerns residents

Trees marked for removal line Mill Creek Road in Orrington. According to some residents who live on the road, the town never asked for permission to remove the trees, which are on the residents' private property.
Trees marked for removal line Mill Creek Road in Orrington. According to some residents who live on the road, the town never asked for permission to remove the trees, which are on the residents' private property.
Posted May 10, 2011, at 6:01 p.m.
Last modified May 10, 2011, at 6:17 p.m.

ORRINGTON, Maine — Spray-painted orange circles with an “X” through the middle mark about three dozen trees on Mill Creek Road that may soon come down as part of a town project to improve the roadway, Town Manager Paul White said Tuesday.

The appearance of the bright orange markings have upset some residents along the mile-long dirt road, two of whom spoke up about their concerns at a meeting of the town’s selectmen on Monday.

“It’s really unnecessary,” Mary Ann Schwarcz, who lives on Mill Creek Road and spoke at the selectmen’s meeting, said Tuesday. “I am concerned.”

The former county road was turned over to Orrington years ago and needs some significant upgrades to bring it up to town road standards, White said.

“We’re looking to do improvements on Mill Creek Road by removing some trees in the ditch line and setting back utility poles,” he said. “This is a partial plan. It is not cast in stone yet. It does not mean that all of the trees are going to go.”

He added: “In order to build the road properly, the town will have to remove some trees. Those trees are in the town’s right of way.”

The entire road is getting paved for the first time, at a cost of around $80,000, and drainage improvements are being made. “They are pretty much reconstructing the whole top of the road,” Selectman Howard Grover said Tuesday.

Hearing from the two upset residents on Monday was the first time that he and others on the board learned of the proposed tree cuts, he said.

“My personal opinion is not all the trees have to come down,” Grover said. “There is no point taking them all down.”

Grover asked that Bill Olver of Olver Associates, an engineer who does work for the town, be tasked to look into the project to ensure that only the trees which need to be cut are removed.

“We’re not doing it just because we want to. It’s a matter of upgrading the road,” White said. “There are issues with snowplows and school buses, emergency vehicles, going up there.”

The road, which is located in south Orrington between Route 15 and the Penobscot River, is a dead-end street that is home to about 20 families, Grover said.

Mary Jude, who operates Mill Creek Consultants from her home on Mill Creek Road, is concerned about the lack of communication between the town and residents.

“Nobody has called me,” she said. “Five of the 36 marked trees are on my property. There is one that is dead, but the others are not. They are big and lush pine trees. These are 100-foot pine trees that have been here 100 years.”

Jude said she has been very happy living on the dirt road for the last 18 years and would be happy to continue to do so, if it means the trees are saved.

The road project falls under the 2011-12 municipal budget and is expected to move forward this summer, White said.

“We’re going to do what is necessary to make improvements to the road,” he said. “Final plans have not been made, but when they are we’ll let [the residents] know what is going to happen.”

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