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Town cut trees without permission on conservation land

MILTON – The Conservation Commission chided the town this week for cutting down 14 trees on conservation land off Randolph Avenue, near the proposed wind turbine site, without asking for the commission’s permission.

The commission issued an “enforcement order” to prevent any further cutting and will tell the town soon how many trees it must plant in compensation for the lost ones, said Chairman John A. Kiernan. The commission is appointed by the selectmen.

“We goofed,” said Town Administrator Kevin Mearn.

He said the town cut down the trees on town-owned property for a staging area for equipment to get into the proposed wind turbine site. Since the Conservation Commission controls the land, town officials should have gone to the board for permission, but “inadvertently” did not, Mearn said.

“Usually the commission has three trees planted for every one that is removed without their consent,” Mearn said. “Obviously we will comply” with whatever the commission orders.

The Conservation Commission learned about the tree clearing from Granite Links Golf Club at Quarry Hills, which leases town-owned property adjoining the site. Quarry Hills has sued to stop the town from building a wind turbine next to the club.

The Conservation Commission is reviewing the town’s proposal to build a 480-foot-tall turbine that would sell power back into the electric grid. The commission has jurisdiction because the project lies within a wetlands buffer zone.

Kiernan said the commission, at its Jan. 18 meeting, asked for more information about such things as the topography and wildlife in the area. The board plans to take up the matter again at its Feb. 8 meeting, he said.