Wetlands board amends clear-cutting definition

The zoning board, which also acts as the Inland Wetlands Board, approved an amendment to the town’s definition of clear-cutting at its April 17 meeting. The decision was intended to close a loophole in the regulations that would allow landowners to level an area of trees — so long as at least one was left standing.

The new language defines clear-cutting as “the removal of 50% or more of all trees having a diameter of two (2) or more inches, measured at a height of four feet from the ground surface.”

The six members of the commission present all voted in favor of amending the regulations.

But at least one resident found that language objectionable.

“How do you know the number of trees that are there?” asked Alan Pilch of Quail Drive, who also serves on the town Conservation Commission. He said he was concerned the change in the regulation’s wording would create more permitting.

But Vice Chairman Joe Fossi, one of the commissioners who spearheaded the change, said he wasn’t “trying to create more regulation.”

Richard Baldelli, the town’s planning and zoning director, responded to Pilch.

“Enforcement is always discretionary,” he said. “They will use whatever tools they think are necessary.”

Attorney Bob Jewell, who represented Nod Hill Brewery later on at the meeting, said he thought the change would make the rules “more restrictive” to clear-cutting. “I think the issue now is that if you clear-cut within a certain distance of a wetland, so long as you leave one tree” then that would not be clear-cutting, Jewell said.