A group of town residents are taking their concerns to the selectmen following the removal of a number of trees at the Market Street at Lynnfield construction site along Walnut Street near Route 128.
Town Administrator Bill Gustus explained at Monday's meeting that in recent days, a number of residents had complained that renderings shown during the Market Street approval process showed the trees in question in both the before and after photos. However, he went on to say that he had spoken to the project's developer, Ted Tye of National Development, and was assured that the work done was in accordance with a plan approved by the town's planning board - and town officials have since determined that this is indeed the case.
"While the effect of seeing the trees removed is quite dramatic, the end result will be substantial screening provided by the berms and landscaping. We appreciate your patience while this work is underway," states a May 17th update on the MarketStreetConstruction.com website.
Gustus said at the meeting that he was also told environmental regulations required some of the trees to be removed because of a retention pond in the vicinity.
Another potential issue is whether National Development had the proper clearance from the state to remove trees located in its right of way area at Exit 43. Gustus reported that DPW Director Dennis Roy found that some of the trees were in the state's right of way area, and that he is expecting an answer back shortly from National Development on whether it had approval to take down those trees. "(Tye) assured me he would do whatever he had to do," said Gustus, also reporting that the two expect to speak again on Wednesday.
Looking ahead, town officials and regulatory bodies will find themselves developing a chain of communication and Gustus cited the potential importance of "a coordinator to pull all these people together and make sure they're all on the same page." He also acknowledged that the removal of the trees "took us somewhat by surprise."
"We will be more vigilantly watching what goes on there," he said, adding that department heads have been instructed to "put this on the front burner." The planning board's approval of the plan (which can be viewed in its office) that included the removal of the trees in question was cited on several occasions during the meeting.
"What happened last week is something of a wakeup call," said Gustus. "We are in the middle of it now, and we will be reacting accordingly." However, he also reported that he was told that "the final landscaping plan will more than cover what those trees were able to cover before."
Resident Tom Carmichael asked the selectmen if they had been aware of the plan to remove the trees as well. Board Chairman Bob MacKendrick replied that the project is multi-jurisdictional and that the planning board's authority is to review and approve the site plan for development. MacKendrick is also the selectmen's liaison to Market Street, and he noted that he will be active in this role while also bringing a considerable amount of valuable experience to the table. "We can't fix it instantly, but going forward, I think we'll be OK," he said.
While the trees can't be replaced, nearby residents will at least see a berm start to take shape in the coming months along Walnut Street that is expected to have 10-foot trees or bushes. A large berm behind the retention pond should also account for about a 25 foot elevation change from Walnut Street. This vegetation was apparently not expected to go in until around next spring, but it was noted during the meeting that fall may now be a possibility. For the short term, residents will pretty much have the current view.
"(Tye) is adamant that you will not be able to see the development from Walnut Street," said Gustus.
About a half dozen residents of nearby neighborhoods raised their concerns about the removed trees to the selectmen, warning that this could be just the beginning of quality of life issues to affect town residents in the coming months as the major project gets ready for a 2013 launch. "The neighbors really thought the trees were on everybody's radar screen," said Wally McKenzie, pressing town officials to secure specific answers on what the developer will do to rectify the loss of the trees, what is the expected response time, how exactly did it happen, and should the town hire somebody at this point to be at the site for inspection work.
McKenzie estimated during the meeting that the cut area in question is about 300 feet long and he also predicted that when it comes to potential issues between abutters and the Market Street project, "lighting is probably the next big thing."
In a previous interview with Lynnfield Patch, Tye talked about some of the benefits that planned will offer at Market Street.
Editor's Note: A landscaping plan for the Walnut Street entrance can be viewed here on National Development's Market Street website.