Belfast councilors concerned after utility cuts down pair of trees without city permission

Posted June 18, 2014, at 11:53 a.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Maybe every spruce isn’t sacred in Belfast, but it can feel that way, according to City Councilors who opined on pines and other trees at Tuesday night’s regular council meeting.

“Given a choice, I’m always in favor of saving a tree, if at all possible,” Councilor Mike Hurley said when weighing the fate of a moribund maple on Miller Street.

That maple was among several trees discussed by councilors, who also heard from representatives of Central Maine Power and Lucas Tree, companies which had taken down two pine trees on Woods Road recently without getting permission from the city ahead of time.

“We went through detailed meetings and conversations to prevent this and we stressed repeatedly that the city highly values its trees and does not want them removed unless the council agrees that it is absolutely necessary,” City Manager Joe Slocum wrote in his manager’s report.

The Lucas Tree representative, Adam Lee, explained that the pines were taken down by a work crew that had spent two months on Islesboro and hadn’t heard the city’s directives on maintenance trimming. The crew filled in for a different foreman who had called in sick and that is when they chopped the pines.

“There was a miscommunication,” Lee said. “It shouldn’t happen again.”

The CMP official told councilors that residents who wish to consult with the utility before it prunes near their homes or businesses can do so online, at the website www.cmpco.com/UsageAndSafety/TreeCare/default.html. According to CMP, maintenance trimming and its tree care program have helped lower tree-related outages by 34 percent since 2008.

In regard to the other trees, councilors decided to save the Miller Street maple, which will receive significant pruning; to cut down a large pine tree at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 141; and to cut down a yard maple tree at Cedar Lane which shows a lot of rot.

In other business, councilors:

— Approved amending the Searsport Avenue commercial zoning district ordinance to allow boat building, boat retrofitting, boat repair and boat storage. Zoning in the district already permits such uses as light industrial warehouse and mobile home sales, service and repair, but had not addressed boat repair or building.

— Accepted the donation of a bench to be placed in City Park in memory of Mary LaMagna, who loved to sit in the park and enjoy the view.

— Agreed to allow Our Town Belfast to hold a fundraising sit-down dinner on the Armistice Bridge on July 31. Abigale Avey of Trillium Caterers told the councilors that organizers planned to reach out to neighbors and local veterans’ groups before the dinner, “in light of the significance of the bridge.”

 

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