Dozens of Sudbury residents upset about a power company's plan to remove trees and brush from South Sudbury against their wishes packed into Tuesday night's Board of Selectmen meeting at Town Hall. Residents complained that NSTAR left them notices on their doors announcing the intention to begin the work, without proper approvals from them or town officials. The notices did not indicate just how aggressive the work would be, they complained.
Chris Lutz said NSTAR ripped up his kids' playground, their sandbox and a flower garden that included newly-planted roses that could not have possibly been interfering with power. He said NSTAR's work, which he said occured on June 4, shortly before the company agreed to a moratorium, significantly damaged his Guzzlebrook Drive property's value. He showed the crowd large photos of damage he labeled as "The NSTAR Tornado."
Four representatives from NSTAR were at the Selectmen's meeting. It was the first time the company has made a public appearance in Sudbury regarding the controversy.
"We're all in favor of power reliability," said Selectman Bob Haarde, "but this certainly should have been handled differently."
"As a businessman, if I handled my business the way NSTAR handles theirs, I'd be out of a job by tomorrow," complained Brian Kane of Victoria Road, who called the company's communication about the work "substandard" and wondered how NSTAR was able to obtain approval for the work from wildlife officials.
"We don't want it stark," NSTAR representative Bill Hayes said during a powerpoint presentation which detailed the heights of vegetation the company wants to remove. He said some of the trees in question have grown too large to be managed, and now need to be removed to prevent their contact with power lines. He said property owners can make appointments with NSTAR to discuss mitigation issues for individual properties.
"Please CC me on those mitigation issues," said State Rep. Tom Conroy, who said he's been working on the issue for about four weeks. He noted that every tree and every yard is different and that NSTAR may have some flexibility in accommodating individual property owner concerns.
Selectman Bob Haarde asked whether NSTAR could just remove more branches, as opposed to removing entire trees.
"I think that's a different discussion, although I appreciate the question," said an NSTAR representative, who said branch removal involves work that tends to be more expensive.
NSTAR said work could resume in Sudbury as early as this week, once crews are finished with some work currently being done in Wayland.
In other business, Selectmen heard an update on the Route 20 Corridor Study, which is a precursor to improvements being considered for Route 20. Intersections in the study include Route 20 at Wayside Inn Road, Horse Pond Road, Goodman's Hill Road, Raytheon/Sudbury Plaza and Landham Road. Landham Road in particular would be improved by traffic lights, planners noted.
Sudbury's stretch of Route 20 is traveled on by 22,000 vehicles per day, with 10,000 of those vehicle trips taking place on Landham Road. The intersection was the site of a fatal accident in 2011, which planners said gives new urgency to improvement plans.
Barry S. David and Phyllis Bially were approved for positions with the Council of Aging, with terms to expire in 2015. During a brief interview, they told Selectment they want to help with programs at the Senior Center, which they feel serves an important purpose in the community.
"Just remember, your turn is coming," Bially joked to the middle-aged Selectmen.
Selectmen began the meeting by proclaiming June 15 to be USMC Lance Corporal David W. Poirier Day in Sudbury in acknowledgment of his safe return from recent tours of duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Camp Rota, Spain.
"He is proud to be from Sudbury," said his mother, as she accepted the proclomation on his behalf.