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Needham Neighbors Support South Street Tree Removal Plan

Neighbors expressed support at the Board of Selectmen's hearing Tuesday night on the tree removal plan.

 

Dead trees around South Street are coming down--in fact, neighbors believe it will make things safer there.

The Board of Selectmen held a hearing on the fate of a number of trees along South Street, many of which appear to be on their way out.

Officials are working with NStar on a removal plan to take away over 100 dead or dying trees, or ones which are expected to grow into active power lines. The trees marked for removal have a blue ribbon on them. This is not related to NStar's vegetation management plan, which the ultimately asked NStar to halt last year.

Town Tree Warden, Lance Remsen, said that about two thirds of the trees are dead or dying, only one third fall into the category of growing into power lines. He has personally surveyed the trees, and noted that most are concentrated around small areas. 

Officials say removing those trees will prevent power outages down the road, and prevent potential blockages on the road. 

Around twenty residents were at the meeting, and only a handful spoke. Most spoke in support of the plan, saying the area was actually made dangerous by the trees in their current state. 

One speaker, South Street resident John Negoshian, felt NStar should be performing more regular checks of the area. He said he had not seen the power company maintaining those power lines in nearly a decade. 

There were no NStar represenatives present at the meeting. 

Needham is considered a Tree City USA, and Remsen attended a recent celebration. 

"It's tough: tree removal is a dirty side of the tree business. It really is a necessary risk, and we have to evaluate which removals are necessary. I truly believe this stretch is one," Remsen said.

In response to a resident's question, he added that the town plants over 120 trees each year, and that home owners can request trees through the forestry department at no cost. 

Because the town is partnering with NStar on this, the power company will pay for the work--Needham will supply the detail police officers. Remsen said he considers the removal to be a $100,000 project.

He believes much of the work will be done during off-peak hours, and it will take only a couple of hours.

The Board of Selectmen closed their hearing. However, as the stretch of South Street is classified as a scenic route, there will be another hearing under Needham's scenic route bylaws before the trees start to come down. 

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