Naples Bos enter early stages on Sebago cove tree-cut violation

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – Timber! Whoops.

The Town of Naples recently served notice of a tree-clearing violation to a Massachusetts resident who owns land on Sebago Cove.

According to Naples Code Enforcement Officer Boni Rickett, in the process of putting in a septic system, the subcontractor removed trees from a 6,900-square feet area of the property. The entire lot, which is located off Beach Road, totals 16,000 square feet, she said.

The tree removal was not in compliance with the ordinance because it exceeded 40 percent of the total tree volume, she said.

“This is in the early stages of the process,” Rickett said. She could not predict whether or not the property owner would be required to pay a one-time fine, or also would be responsible for daily accruing fines until restoration occurs.

This fall, a community member notified Rickett of the possible tree-cutting violation on the property located off Beach Road.

In November, when the landowner, Gordon MacNevin, stopped into the town offices to apply for his septic permits, Rickett verbally let him know about the infraction, she said.

“That’s when we had first spoken about the violation,” she said.

According to ordinances governing tree-removal on waterfront properties, landowners must adhere to two rules. A property owner – or the contractor clearing the parcel – cannot clear more than 25 percent of the entire lot or 10,000 square feet, whichever is greater, Rickett explained.  The larger amount is what cannot be cleared.

Also, tree removal is limited to 40 percent of the tree volume. That volume is calculated by the number of trees that are larger than 4 inches in diameter and 4 ½ feet from the ground, she said.

“You have to comply with both requirements,” she said.

Although the ordinances seem very clear, the square footage allowed for tree removal could change from lot to lot – depending on the size of the existing trees and other factors, including lot size.

During a recent Naples Board of Selectmen meeting, MacNevin appeared before the board asking for a reprieve from the daily fines.

Selectmen Rick Paraschak commented that the contractor Greg Reinhart ran a responsible outfit, and had a reputation of adhering to erosion protection methods. Reinhart subcontracted the tree-removal service for the job on the Sebago Cove property.

When asked how a professional tree-removal business might miscalculate the acceptable square footage for tree removal, Rickett said she did not know why such violations occur.

“I can’t speak for companies if they understand the regulations,” she said. “The regulations can be confusing.”

Rickett said the shoreland ordinances are available on the town’s website.

The tree clearing on the MacGavin parcel did retain the barrier of trees located 100 feet from the high water mark, Rickett said.

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