Roy EspositoHighway Utility Manager / Tree Warden
Chapter 87: Shade Trees 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.
Chapter 87 : Section 2: Powers of Tree Wardens
The tree warden of a town may appoint and remove deputy tree wardens. He and they shall receive such compensation as the town determines or, in default thereof, as the selectmen allow. He shall have the care and control of all public shade trees, shrubs and growths in the town, except those within a state highway, and those in public parks or open places under the jurisdiction of the park commissioners, and shall have care and control of the latter, if so requested in writing by the park commissioners, and shall enforce all the provisions of law for the preservation of such trees, shrubs and growths. He shall expend all money appropriated for the setting out and maintenance of such trees, shrubs and growths, and no tree shall be planted within a public way without the approval of the tree warden, and in towns until a location therefor has been obtained from the selectmen or road commissioners. He may make regulations for the care and preservation of public shade trees and establish fines and forfeitures of not more than twenty dollars in any one case for violation thereof; which, when posted in one or more public places, and, in towns, when approved by the selectmen, shall have the effect of town by-laws.
Chapter 87: Section 3: Cutting of Public Shade Trees; Public Hearing; Damages to Fee Owner
Except as provided by section five, public shade trees shall not be cut, trimmed or removed, in whole or in part, by any person other than the tree warden or his deputy, even if he be the owner of the fee in the land on which such tree is situated, except upon a permit in writing from said tree warden, nor shall they be cut down or removed by the tree warden or his deputy or other person without a public hearing and said tree warden or his deputy shall cause a notice of the time and place of such hearing thereof, which shall identify the size, type and location of the shade tree or trees to be cut down or removed, to be posted in two or more public places in the town and upon the tree at least seven days before such hearing and published in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town once in each of two successive weeks, the first publication to be not less than seven days before the day of the hearing or if no such local newspaper exists then in accordance with the provisions of section six of chapter four; provided, however, that when a public hearing must be held under the provisions of this section and under section fifteen C of chapter forty prior to the cutting or removal of a tree, such hearings shall be consolidated into a single public hearing before the tree warden and the planning board, or if there is no planning board, the selectmen of a town or the city council of a city, and notice of such consolidated public hearing shall be given by the tree warden or his deputy as provided herein. Any person injured in his property by the action of the officers in charge of the public shade trees as to the trimming, cutting, removal or retention of any such tree, or as to the amount awarded to him for the same, may recover the damages, if any, which he has sustained, from the town under chapter seventy-nine.
Chapter 87: Section 4: Cutting Down or Removal of Public Shade Trees, Approval of Selectmen or Mayor
Tree wardens shall not cut down or remove or grant a permit for the cutting down or removal of a public shade tree if, at or before a public hearing as provided in the preceding section, objection in writing is made by one or more persons, unless such cutting or removal or permit to cut or remove is approved by the selectmen or by the mayor.
Chapter 87: Section 5: Cutting Down, Trimming, or Removing Bushes & Small Trees
Tree wardens and their deputies, but no other person, may, without a hearing, trim, cut down or remove trees, less than one and one half inches in diameter one foot from the ground, and bushes, standing in public ways; and, if ordered by the mayor, selectmen, road commissioners or highway surveyor, shall trim or cut down trees and bushes, if the same shall be deemed to obstruct, endanger, hinder or incommode persons traveling thereon or to obstruct buildings being moved pursuant to the provisions of section eighteen of chapter eighty-five. Nothing contained in this chapter shall prevent the trimming, cutting or removal of any tree which endangers persons traveling on a highway, or the removal of any tree, if so ordered by the proper officers for the purpose of widening the highway and nothing herein contained shall interfere with the suppression of pests declared to be public nuisances by section eleven of chapter one hundred and thirty-two, including the Dutch elm disease.
Chapter 87: Section 6: Penalty for Violation of Secs. 3, 4 & 5
Violations of any provision of the three preceding sections shall be punished by forfeiture of not more than five hundred dollars to the use of the city or town.
Chapter 87: Section 7: Planting of Shade Trees
Cities and towns may appropriate money for the purpose of acquiring and planting shade trees in public ways. The tree warden, or a private organization acting with the written consent of the tree warden, may plant shade trees acquired with public or private funds in a public way, or if he deems it expedient, upon adjoining land at a distance not exceeding 20 feet from the layout of such public way for the purpose of improving, protecting, shading or ornamenting the same; provided, however, that the written consent of the owner of such adjoining land shall first be obtained.