Urban Forest Management presentation – Monday (Updated)

The public is invited to hear from a Southborough native who is an expert in Arboriculture & Urban Forestry

Above: The Planning Board will be hearing from a lecturer they hope will provide insight to Town officials trying to resolve details around protecting public shade trees in Southborough. The public is invited to join them.

[Editor’s Note: This event was postponed to August 1st.]*

Town officials have invited in a guest lecturer on Urban Forestry. She’ll be presenting on “the planning and and management of public trees and other vegetation within a town or city.” 

The presentation will take place during the Planning Board’s hybrid meeting on Monday night. The public is invited to attend.

The Planning Board and Select Board have been trying to resolve issues around the process for protecting/removing public shade trees.

Planning has been working on a bylaw to present to voters at the Special Town Meeting in October. The Select Board has previously voiced some concerns about the version that was proposed earlier this spring.

The boards have been trying to flesh out details around the roles and responsibilities of a Tree Warden. That includes whether the Warden who works for the Town should be an independent arborist or the Town should just outsource certain actions to an arborist.

At separate meetings in May, Planning member Debbie DeMuria updated each board about what she learned in her private research on the Tree Warden issues. Southborough native Kristina Bezanson is a lecturer for UMass Amherst’s Arboriculture & Community Forest Management program.  She trains future arborists.

DeMuria described Bezanson as an Arborist with expertise in Urban Forestry. She suggested tapping into Bezanson’s wealth of knowledge by inviting her to speak to Town officials. Both boards agreed it was a good idea.

Bezanson is on the agenda for the Planning Board’s July 11th meeting. DeMuria asked me to share an invitation with the community.

A flyer describes the presentation topics as including:

  • Benefits of the urban forest
  • Common practices and industry standards for trees
  • Who is an arborist, tree warden, or forester?
  • MGL Chapter 87

It also lists Bezanson’s credentials as including “MCA, ISA Board Master Certified Arborist / Municipal Specialist / Tree
Risk Assessment Qualified”.

In 2020, the New York Times wrote about the increased need for arborists, especially in New England. Bezanson was one of the experts they interviewed. You can read that story here.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in the Town House Hearing Room (2nd floor) at 17 Common Street, where Bezanson will present in person. It will also be conducted over zoom for remote participation (and streamed live on the YouTube Channel).

The Town Planner estimates the presentation will begin around 7:30 pm. (The meeting starts at 7:00 pm, but a hearing on 200 Turnpike Road is slated to take place first. )

*Updated (7/28/22 12:17 pm): At the start of the July 11th Planning Board meeting, the news was shared that there were technical problems with the projector, forcing them to postpone the presentation to August 1st. An agenda posted for a 7:00 meeting that night confirms it. (There is a hearing scheduled for the start of the meeting, so I don’t know when the actual presentation will begin.)

Updated (7/28/22 2:04 pm): The Planning Board posted that the applicant (200 Turnpike Rd) for the 7:00 pm plans to withdraw their application at the meeting. Their attorney will be making a request to have the application fee waived when they resubmit. That means there could be discussion for a few minutes, but I would expect that to be brief and the presentation to begin shortly after.

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