Owl Pellet: Weston Tree By-Law Presented to Select Board Last Week

The Owl has an endless number of photos of trees. This one from March 2022

So, here we are, Weston. Time to talk about the Tree By-Law/Sustainable Tree Initiative/Article 30. Please note first that the Owl is not unbiased and is not the mainstream press. This is a blog. Read on and make your own decisions. The Weston Facebook page has been an exciting mingling of fact, innuendo, accusation and opinion, as social media is, and the Weston Owl will be less free-flowing because the reporter is me. It’s almost all opinion and sometimes bad puns. Leaf it to me.

As part of that, know that I am a Champion of Trees (as Morton Arboretum says), a former member of the Tree Advisory Group, a current consultant (unpaid and unheralded, haha) of the Fifth Grade tree, a former member of the Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee, an executive board member of Weston Forest and Trail (but do not speak for that organization) and I have completed a number of tree courses at the Department of Conservation and Recreation for Massachusetts and the ISA Arborist Short Course at Penn State where I was very very lucky to come out with a passing grade. Trees are complex, as are laws. So let’s get to it.

Today’s post is based on the presentation to the Select Board last Friday, April 29–yes, Arbor Day, and the coincidence is happy. The full recording of the Select Board meeting is here, and I suggest you watch starting at 1:47 and it is largely wrapped up at 2:41. You have a lunch hour (maybe); use it! I will not be attempting to summarize the discussion–okay maybe a little–because I think it behooves Weston residents to invest some time, like your town volunteers do, in fully understanding what awaits us on Monday, May 9 at 7 pm …Town Meeting. I do want to point out that this proposed by-law has been a thoughtful iterative process and comments have been taken to heart and the By-law edited to “Be Best”. As I pointed out yesterday, there is also one more Public Hearing on it tomorrow night, May 4. The presentation used at the meeting is also available here.

Please note that many of the burning questions about the Tree By-Law are brought up by Select Board members and participants in the call. Setbacks, when the by-law is triggered, etc etc. My favorite part is at minute 2:12 when Select Board member Chris Houston says…” this [proposed by-law] is directly in response to a perceived problem and it was a problem by people that were clear-cutting.” He goes on to provide a great summary of the motivation behind the by-law. If you watch nothing else, watch 2:12-2:18. Believe me when I say that this Owl was impressed by his emphasis that something should be brought forward and it will either pass or it won’t. Democracy, folks, but you need to show up to vote.

Other attendees bring up questions about replacement trees, septic builds, canopy and calipers. There are answers to these questions, please just listen in before Town Meeting next week. Know all you can know and then show up and vote. I think I’ve said that before. Whichever “side” you are on, we are all Champions of Weston.

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