Town up in arms over clear-cutting

Select Board weighing the public’s input

  • Abutters to the property adjacent to the Dublin DPW building the town recently forested voiced concern at the Aug. 25 select board meeting.
  • Abutters to the property adjacent to the Dublin DPW building the town recently forested voiced concern at the Aug. 25 select board meeting.
  • Dublin residents expressed concern over the towns harvesting of trees off of Cobb Meadow road during the select board meeting Tuesday.
  • Dublin residents expressed concern over the towns harvesting of trees off of Cobb Meadow road during the select board meeting Tuesday.

DUBLIN — Tuesday’s Select Board meeting had to be moved downstairs to a bigger room to accommodate the more than 20 residents who showed up to protest the town’s clear-cutting of a 2-acre lot on Cobb Meadow Road near the Highway Department building.

The cutting was done over a two-week period, and was suspended on Friday.

“The job is halted, with the majority of it complete. We don’t know where the project stands,” said Conservation Commission Chair Miriam Carter on Wednesday.

Townspeople attended the meeting in support of Carter, and to discuss why the town had gone ahead and clear-cut the property without informing the commission or the public at large.

The Select Board informed the audience that everyone who wished would have a chance to be heard, one by one, and that the board would listen and take notes on the residents’ concerns.

“You can’t glue trees back together,” Carter said. “We can’t change what’s happened. My concern is the process, or lack of a process, for the entire town at-large, but specifically for the neighborhood.”

Carter believes the public uproar could have been avoided if the Conservation Commission had been brought along early in the process. “We are an advisory board — our purpose is to keep the town out of trouble,” she said.

Carter questioned why every abutting neighbor was not brought into the discussion, prior to the town carrying out the cut.

The 2-acre lot that was cut is owned by the town, and was a part of annual tree harvesting the town does to get returns for the valuable timber, according to Town Administrator Sherry Miller.

During the meeting, Carter said that Road Agent Brian Barden had told her the town would be thinning some pines and hoping to uncover some usable gravel from the lot. “When I drove up, I was shocked. More was cut around the town maintenance building than any of us hoped for,” she said.

Carter made it clear to the board that she understands the town stands to make $20,000 to $25,000 from this cut. “So it doesn’t cost money, but it may cost the town a beautiful piece of property,” she said to the board.

“We’re asking for due process when it comes to such large decisions,” said Carter. “We are all townspeople, we all pay taxes — we owe it to the neighborhoods to ask them how they feel about a project.”

Resident John Morris stood up and questioned whether or not the board realized just how close to the wetlands they had cut. The wetlands lie east of the Highway Department building on Cobb Meadow Road. A 250-foot buffer is required by law, and Morris was skeptical as to whether or not the letter of the law was met. “I know the town is exempt from a lot of things, which is convenient when you are the town, but we, as residents, follow the rules,” said Morris.

Fellow resident Frank White was next to stand up and address the Select Board. White outlined his concern for property revaluation following the cut, saying, “I know that land in there. I don’t know how you’re going to get any gravel out of there and, if you do, you will have to do some process on that land because of the ledges and rocks. It would cost a small fortune.”

Cobb Hill Road resident Mary Langton asked the board to notify the town regarding future plans for such work. “The logging operation was not quiet. We could hear it with our windows closed. Now that the trees are gone, we will be hearing the rock grinding from the Highway Department even louder,” she said. Langton made it clear that she is not opposed to timber harvesting, but that she is concerned with the direction the town is heading in. “I am opposed to living in an industrial park one day. If I do hear about any expansion, my house is on the market tomorrow,” said Langton.

Jeff Pinney, Langton’s neighbor on Cobb Meadow Road, was next to stand before the board, addressing the appearance of the Highway Department building. “Now that you guys opened that up, you can see what we have been complaining about for many years. The yard is a mess, it’s exposing what needs to be cleaned up down there. By opening up the trees, you opened it up to everyone’s vision,” said Pinney.

Pinney expressed his disappointment with the lack of public notification of the project, and quickly pointed out that a plan to correct this needs to be thought up, “now that the big white dinosaur is sticking out like a sore thumb.”

In conclusion, Pinney said, “It’s horrible what you did, and the responsibility falls on this board.”

Forester Swift Corwin, who worked with the town to forest the land, assured residents that all cutting had been suspended.“Until everyone is comfortable with what we’re doing, I will not cut anything else. Most of the cutting is done,” he said.

Select board Chair Sterling Abram addressed residents, saying, “We have heard the concerns tonight, and they will shape what we do in the future with town land and certainly cuts.”

Select Board member Peter Thomas said, “It wasn’t that we were looking for lack of process, we were moving forward in what we felt was the best interest of the town to make the utility area more efficient for the town’s use. Part of our mandate is to manage town property.”

Following Abram’s remarks, Carter stood up and said, “Don’t continue the cut. We need an answer for the concerned parties. Take an action to address that land and apologize. Can we mitigate the damage using some of the towns earning from the cut?”

Abram ended the meeting by telling the townspeople to “register your suggestions. This is a lot to process. The board needs time.”

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