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Resident probes selectmen about missing bushes on Bonnyman Road

September 17, 2009
WAKEFIELD —Selectmen have promised to replace some bushes along Bonnyman Road after residents demanded to know who cut them and why.

During last week's selectmen's meeting, Towle Farm Road resident Joan Gatto complained that on Sunday, Aug. 30, newly planted bushes on the public beach on Province Lake had been cut down.

The plantings were part of the Action/Wakefield Watersheds Alliance's efforts to control erosion on the lake. She also charged the cutting was illegal under the state's Shoreline Protection Act.

"The savage clear cutting was so upsetting and unacceptable," said Gatto.

According to her, the AWWA had just planted high bush blueberries, nine bark viburnum, and maple viburnum. Now, all that's left of them is a "three-foot swath at the edge of the water."

She asked the board a number of questions about the incident.

"How did this come about, who authorized this action and who granted the permits," asked Gatto. "Who decided to cut everything down to the ground and why?"

She was accompanied by her husband, Ken, and several people from the AWWA.

Selectmen's Chair Mark Duffy said the selectmen had told the parks and recreation department to clean the beach up because another resident complained that the town hadn't been maintaining it. Initially, Duffy told the group he thought the area looked good after the cutting.

The person responsible for the cutting thought the bushes were dead and needed to be removed, said Duffy.

"There was no malice involved," said Duffy. "We made a mistake, and we'll fix it."

Several people disputed Duffy's suggestion that the bushes were dead.

In response to the concerns, Duffy suggested AWWA submit a maintenance plan for the beach. He admitted the workers didn't have clear instructions on what to do.

Town administrator Robin Frost said the employee's lack of training on shoreline protection regulations was a contributing factor to the incident.

Town officials are scheduled to meet with state officials from the Department of Environmental Services, today, Sept. 17, to discuss issues on the road, said Frost.

AWWA Technical Director Adam Shoukimas said officials are going to wait and see what the state says about Bonnyman Road before any action to replace the bushes is taken.

In other selectmen's business:

• Selectmen will hold a public hearing review the fee structure for the renewal of building permits on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Their regularly scheduled meeting begins at 7 p.m. at town hall. Currently, the fee schedule states the following: If someone renews a permit before it expires, the person pays half price for an additional year. If the person waits till then permit expires they pay full price for an additional year. The proposal is to change the renewal price to a $30 flat fee for one year. A second renewal would cost full price. Permit costs can vary by type. Also the price of 911 mapping is proposed to increase from $40 to $45. This reflects an increase in cost from the mapping company.

• Officials rediscovered a boundary marker of the town line with Middleton that had not been found since 1984, Duffy said. The boundary marker was found during a perambulation walk on Aug. 30.

• Selectmen formally approved a federal COPS grant that will fund a new police officer position for three years if the town promises to employ the officer for a fourth year. The grant is worth about $188,000.

• Resident Jim Miller asked why videos that he's made of community events have not received tbairplay on the town's public access channel. Station Coordinator Relf Fogg said some of the videos did get airplay earlier this year and that he'd make an effort to get the rest on the air soon. Fogg said the station is happy to accept videos from the public. However, it would be easier to play them in a timely fashion if the town had some more equipment and volunteers willing to help with the station.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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