Paul Costello, committee chair, said the rationale behind the bylaw is to protect the rural or suburban feel of Duxbury. He cited a survey of the town taken a few years ago, which showed residents wanted the town to maintain its “rural character.”
“Due to recent construction and clear-cutting around town, it is timely now for the town to consider protecting trees in set back areas,” Costello said.
Lorrie Hall, committee member and driving force behind the bylaw, said there are four triggers in the current Wellesley bylaw that would activate a tree protection. The triggers include demolition of a 250 square foot or larger building, building on retaining walls greater than 4 feet in height, construction a new building and construction resulting in a 50 percent or more total footprint. Major differences in the Duxbury bylaw would include arrangements for view sheds, smaller setbacks and lots and tree dimensions.
Planning Board member John Bear said it is important to keep in mind that many houses in Duxbury were built before zoning laws went into effect and houses had to be built with a 25 foot setback in the front and 15 foot setback on the sides.
Hall said the ideal bylaw would simply require protection on trees within the required zoning setbacks to be protected.
“The changes are all up to us and what we want to do,” Hall said. “There are fussy people around town who want to maintain their ocean views and cut down all the trees in the front yard.”
Thomas Broadrick, planning director, clarified the zoning question by explaining that any house built before zoning laws went into effect would have no setback requirements, but any new construction on the same property would be subject to setbacks.
“If what you are trying to accomplish is to keep the trees in the setbacks, we have to review the Wellesley bylaw and change it for Duxbury,” he said.
Another issue facing the bylaw is that on some lots the only place to reasonably build a home may include cutting down trees that might otherwise be protected. Broadrick also reminded the committee that many homeowners want to maintain curb-appeal for their homes, which usually involves cutting down trees in the front yard. A remedy for both of these issues includes paying into the tree fund, where trees may be replanted elsewhere.
“You have to take a look at specific cases,” he said. “You can’t just say ‘absolutely no cutting in setbacks.’”
Broadrick said he believed the best course of action to move forward with the bylaw is to sit down with the Open Space Committee to hash out kinks and problems and focus solely on Duxbury. He said he would like to set up a specific time for the committee to meet with the board for a working session to address specific issues.
The Planning Board also entertained a presentation concerning a minor modification to a subdivision on Ingall’s Grove, off Bay Road. The McCrystal family plans on installing a drainage system to catch runoff from their property in a low point of the property that abuts their neighbors’ property.
The drainage system, which will most likely be installed in the spring, will be about four feet in height and will be inserted vertically into the ground, surrounded by a fiber material that would assist in separating the silt from the water.
Glenn Brodie, McCrystal’s neighbor, said his main concern was that, during the winter, the frozen ground would create excess runoff onto his property and wanted to be assured that the new drainage system was capable of handling the excess water.
George Wadsworth, Planning Board chairman, said he visited the property in question and noticed significant runoff from a section of the parking area and noticed a little bit of damage to the grass. He said he believes the problem is fixable.
“Once the grass grows in and once they reseed it, it will be unnoticeable,” Wadsworth said. “Short of 40 days and 40 nights of rainfall, there is little or not potential of any water coming across the adjacent property.”
The board accepted the presentation and suggested the drainage construction not commence until spring.
Wadsworth told Brodie to call Broadrick immediately if he experienced any issues with excess water.
“I’d be the happiest person in the world if this solves it,” Brodie said. “I just have concerns.”