By Eliza Rosenberry

Residents at a May 23 Planning Board meeting pushed for a new property owner to sufficiently replace trees that had been improperly removed during construction. Trees had been cut down by a previous developer of the subdivision at Willow Lane, located at 30 Chelmsford Road.

The current owner, Homes Development, presented a new landscaping plan to the Board and offered to plant eight new trees as replacements, noting that increased tree screening will make the properties more marketable.

“We’re trying to correct a mistake we did not make,” the Homes representative told the Board.

Board members, including Amy Lloyd and Jeff Cohen, expressed a willingness to approve the landscaping proposal on the condition that Homes Development work with neighbors and planning staff to add additional tree screening in some areas.

The representative from Homes Development at first resisted the request, instead offering to adjust the location of the eight new trees on the plan. He told the Board it would be difficult to identify more trees to replace, as the existing conditions were created by a previous owner.

“It’s not too hard to see a cut off stump, so that’s an easy way to start,” responded Lloyd.

Neighbors and Board members agreed that eight trees will not be sufficient to resolve the neighbors’ concerns.

“Legally, they took away our trees,” said Dave Brown, an abutter on Chelmsford Road, who said the previous developer cut down four trees along his property line, which were not designated to be replaced. Those trees, he added, had been holding in a stone wall that has since started to degrade.

Board member Tim Gray challenged the Board’s approach to the matter. He insisted the Board should quantify their request in order to give specific instruction to the developer and avoid any confusion. But other Board members agreed they could not immediately name a number without seeing the site.

Ultimately the new landscaping proposal passed, on the condition that the developer carry out a site visit with planning staff and neighbors to identify additional trees to be replaced.

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