I’ve written about large-scale tree-cutting to clear lots for construction. A less obvious way that trees can be lost to construction is trees that remain but are damaged by the construction itself, either through direct hits, or by storage of heavy equipment or materials in the root zone. The Tree Preservation Ordinance Sec. 20-33(e) prohibits storing materials or equipment under the drip line of a protected private tree. The Public Tree Ordinance Sec. 20-72 prohibits the same for public trees as follows:
(i) Construction: Except as provided in a tree permit, construction activities on city-owned property and public right of ways under the drip line of a public tree or public shade tree are prohibited. Prohibited construction activities include, but are not limited to, trenching or grading, storage of materials or equipment, passage of heavy equipment within the drip line and spillage of chemicals or other materials, which are damaging to trees.
I got home around 1am to find a violation of the latter on my street, Murray Road. I can’t imagine how heavy a fully-loaded heavy-duty truck is, but that much weight can damage tree roots, and in this case it was sitting there from about 5pm yesterday (which is when the driver said they knocked off work) until it was moved at 8am this morning. The Newton Police wrote a citation last night for commercial vehicle parking over two hours, but the fine for that is only $25. A lot of contractors would probably rather pay the $25 than drive their equipment back to, in this case, Gardner, or to a legal overnight spot. It’s also a violation to park on a sidewalk but that fine is only $15.
Fortunately, the Public Tree Ordinance provides for a $300/day fine, so if you see this type of activity, day or night, affecting private or public trees, you can check with Marc Welch at Parks & Rec Division of Urban Forestry to find out if they need and have a permit (in the case of private trees) or have a permit (in the case of public trees). Note: one gap in public tree protection, which the Urban Tree Commission and others would like to see rectified, is that there is no protection for the portion of the area under the drip line of public trees that is on private property.
The H. Ellis truck did get moved at 8am. The driver/owner said he was told by R.A. Franchi, which appears to be the general contractor, to just park his trunk in front of the R.A. Franchi excavator (which the Newton police officer told me he could not ticket for overnight parking because it’s not an on-road vehicle with a plate). There seem to be problems here beyond the Public Tree Ordinance violation.