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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 720         FILED ON: 1/14/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1842

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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PRESENTED BY:

Jonathan Hecht

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To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act to update the public shade tree law.

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PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Jonathan Hecht

29th Middlesex

Jason M. Lewis

31st Middlesex


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 720        FILED ON: 1/14/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1842

By Mr. Hecht of Watertown, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 1842) of Jonathan Hecht and Jason M. Lewis for legislation to regulate the powers of tree wardens in municipalities in the Commonwealth.  Municipalities and Regional Government. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

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An Act to update the public shade tree law.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1.  Chapter 87 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out section 2 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

              Section 2. The tree warden of a town or city may appoint and remove deputy tree wardens. The tree warden and the deputy tree wardens shall receive such compensation as the town or city determines.The tree warden shall have the care and control of all public shade trees, shrubs and growths in the town or city, except those in public parks or open places under the jurisdiction of the park commissioners, unless otherwise designated in writing by the park commissioners, and shall enforce all the provisions of law for the preservation of such trees, shrubs and growths. The tree warden shall expend all money appropriated for the setting out and maintenance of such trees, shrubs and growths.  No tree shall be planted within a public way without the approval of the tree warden. The tree warden may propose regulations for the care and preservation of public shade trees to be approved by the local governing body of a town or city selectmen, which shall have the effect of town by-laws, and may establish fines and forfeitures for violations thereof pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated under section 15.

              SECTION 2.  Said chapter 87, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out section 5 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

              Section 5.  Tree wardens and deputy tree wardens, but no other person, may, without a hearing, trim, cut down or remove trees, less than 4 inches in diameter 1 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 that, following an inspection based on accepted industry or government arboricultural standards for the determination of hazardous or dangerous trees, are deemed to obstruct, endanger, hinder or incommode persons traveling thereon or to obstruct buildings being moved pursuant to the provisions of section 18 of chapter 85.  Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the trimming, cutting or removal of any tree which endangers persons traveling on a highway or poses an imminent threat to persons or property by the proper state or municipal authority.  In all other instances, the person seeking to trim, cut or remove a tree from the public way shall consult with the tree warden.  Nothing herein shall interfere with the suppression of pests declared to be public nuisances pursuant to section 11 of chapter 132, including the Dutch elm disease.

              SECTION 3.  Said chapter 87, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out section 6 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

              Section 6.  A violation of the provisions in sections 3 to 5, inclusive, shall be punished by forfeiture of not more than the assessed value of the tree or trees pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated under section 15.  Such monies shall be collected for use by the city or town.

              SECTION 4.  Section 9 of said chapter 87, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Whoever affixes to a tree in a public way, or places a notice, sign, advertisement or other thing, whether in writing or otherwise, or cuts, paints or marks such tree, except for the purpose of protecting it or the public and under a written permit from the officer having the charge of such trees in a city or from the tree warden in a town, or from the department in the case of a state highway, shall be punished by a fine pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated under section 15.

              SECTION 5.  Section 12 of said chapter 87, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence  and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Whoever wantonly injures, defaces or destroys a shrub, plant or tree, or fixture of ornament or utility, in a public way or place or in any public enclosure, or negligently or wilfully suffers an animal or vehicle driven by or for him or belonging to him to injure, deface or destroy such shrub, plant, tree or fixture, shall be punished by a fine of not more than 500 dollars, and shall be liable to the town, city or any person for all damages relating to their interest in the shrub, plant, tree or fixture caused by such act.

              SECTION 6.  Section 13 of said chapter 87, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting at the end thereof the following sentence:-  In accordance with section 106 of chapter 41, the tree warden in any city or town which exceeds 10,000 residents shall be qualified by training and experience in the field of arboriculture and licensed with the department of agricultural resources in accordance with the provisions of section 10 of chapter 132B.  A qualified tree warden shall be defined as a person who has completed a degree in a forestry or natural resource management field,  has attained certification from the International Society of Arboriculture or through the Massachusetts Certified Arborist Program of the Massachusetts Arborists Association or other equivalent professional certification or, for communities with less than 10,000 residents, completed a series of Professional Development courses offered by the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association or equivalent training.

              SECTION 7.  Chapter 87 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 14 the following section:-

              Section 15.  The department of conservation and recreation shall promulgate rules and regulations pertaining to this chapter.

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