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According to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 87: Section 3, the removal of a Town Tree is illegal without a Public Hearing or Tree Hearing or if the Tree Warden deems the tree a hazard to the public's safety.
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To qualify for Tree City USA, a town or city must meet 4 standards established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program. It is important to note that they were also designed so that no community would be excluded because of size. The standards are:
Did you know that the Town has a tree management program? The Town has been a Tree City USA for a distinguished 10 years. The Town celebrates Arbor Day on the third Friday in the month of April. Orleans celebrates Arbor Day every year.
Healthy street trees cannot be cut down - either at the request of residents or the Tree Warden - without a hearing. The date and time of this hearing is publicized on a placard affixed to the tree, in the legal notices section of the local Orleans newspaper, the Department of Public Works website, or Town Hall.
Anyone who objects to the removal must protest by writing to the Tree Warden or by appearing at the scheduled hearing. The removal request will be turned down if there are any objections. In this case, the resident who wants the tree cut down can file an appeal with the Board of Selectmen.
Residents who ask for removal of a healthy street tree are legally responsible for all costs associated with this process, including notification, conducting the hearing, removing the tree, and planting a replacement in a nearby location.
The Tree Warden identifies street trees for removal all throughout the year. The Tree Warden also keeps an eye out for hazardous dead limbs. Pruning and removal work takes place year-round, depending on weather conditions.
Please call your Tree Warden and Certified Arborist, Dan Connolly at 508-240-3790 during the Highway Department business hours (7:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday) to report street trees that are dead or dying or dead limbs that pose a hazard to sidewalks, roadways, or privately owned structures.
Residents may submit a Tree Request directly to the Tree Warden.
According to Massachusetts General Laws (Chapter 87: Section 1. Public shade trees; definition):
"All trees within a public way or on the boundaries thereof, including trees planted in accordance with the provisions of section 7, shall be public shade trees; and when it appears in any proceeding in which the ownership of or rights in a tree are material to the issue, that, from length of time or otherwise, the boundaries of the highway cannot be made certain by records or monuments, and that for that reason it is doubtful whether the tree is within the highway, it shall be taken to be within the highway and to be public property until the contrary is shown."
In less legalese jargon, a pubic shade tree is a public tree is one that falls within the town's boundaries, is located within town property, or is a street tree that falls within a street or road's right-of-way (ROW).
What Do Tree Wardens Do? (PDF)