Needham residents are circulating a petition that asks NSTAR to significantly reduce its plan to remove trees and vegetation around transmission lines in town.
The petition, available online at gopetition.com, has been distributed door to door and can also be viewed at or at the , according to Elmwood Road resident Bill Fitzgerald.
In early July, representatives from the gas and electric company to remove "incompatible" vegetation that lies in a 100-foot zone beneath the company’s electrical transmission lines. NSTAR manages about 400 miles of high voltage transmission right-of-way, part of which follows the Commuter Rail tracks through Needham and crosses many private properties and backyards.
NSTAR's original management plan called for removal of any growth with a mature height of more than 3 feet in the “wire zone,” directly around and under the transmission tower, and plants with the potential to grow to more than 15 feet that are located in the “border zone”—an area on either side of the wire zone.
The neighbors' petition, which is addressed to NSTAR President Thomas May, asks the company to "limit the work to reasonable removal of vegetation that currently threatens transmission lines" and to "implement a phased vegetation management approach rather than clear cutting of every tree."
On July 26, town and state officials to outline some of their concerns about the management plan, which had already begun in towns such as , , and Natick.
Following that summit, Needham officials that clearly listed the concerns raised at the meeting and requested that NSTAR do more to work with property owners whose yards will be affected by the tree removal.
The neighbors' petition states the following:
To Thomas May, President of NSTAR:
We, the undersigned customers of Northeast Utilities and citizens of the town of Needham, petition Northeast Utilities to cease its planned clear cutting of all trees and work together with its neighbors, town officials and state agencies in order to provide reliable electric service without decimating the environment of the Needham neighborhoods.
We call upon Northeast Utilities to:
Limit the work to reasonable removal of vegetation that currently threatens transmission lines;
Implement a phased vegetation management approach rather than clear cutting of every tree;
Identify and resolve ground level safety, erosion, noise and visual pollution, and water resource issues created by the proposed work;
Communicate with abutters, in writing, defining the scope of planned work;
And present a written plan of mitigation for properties damaged by this work.
Northeast Utilities claim that this project is mandated by new federal mandates is inconsistent with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements that are limited to transmission lines carrying greater voltage than the Needham line.
We demand that the Northeast Utilities behave as a good and reasonable neighbor, a responsible corporate citizen and adhere to its own statement of environmental stewardship:
“The operational activities of our company are conducted with an awareness of the potential environmental impacts created by our infrastructure.”