Proposal to Clean Out Town Forest Gets Green Light

Resident Kent Allen is proposing to clean out the Town Forest of trees under 3 inches in diameter and to remove brush and debris. He took his proposal to the Heritage Commission at its meeting Thursday, July 25.
“The town would provide assistance in hauling away. A forester could come in and take the trees down and then give us money for the trees from that,” Chairman Art Rugg said.

Rugg said there would be phases to the clean-up, with brush and debris removed first, then small pine and hardwood trees under 3 inches, then stump removal and grinding, and lastly, grading and loam and planting of seeds.

“Kent thought maybe a September time frame would be when he could put some time in to start the work, which would be on a volunteer basis on his part,” Rugg said. “I’m trying to approach some of the scout troops for assistance. I didn’t open any discussion with anyone until you people decided whether and when you wanted to start,” Allen said.

Rugg said the commission could give its consensus on the project for Allen to move ahead. Resident Ann Chiampa asked if he was talking about just the trails or the whole town forest, and Allen said he was referring to the entire forest. “Thank you. Thank you,” Chiampa said. “I think it would be a three-year project because there is a lot there,” Geographic Information System Manager and Planner Jon Vogl said. He noted if bittersweet was removed from the forest, allowing sun to get in, the undergrowth of grass would flourish.

“Can you imagine driving by and seeing it all clean? It would be awesome,” commission member Jim Butler said.
Allen said he and Vogl had walked the forest and thought beginning in an area that was the most visible would get people interested in the project. “Starting at the Common at the first corner to a point on the other side of the wall. Start there and take it right across,” Allen said.

Chiampa asked why pine trees and hardwood would be removed. “They’re very acidic and pine is a very trashy tree that requires a lot of maintenance,” Allen said, adding that by cleaning out the forest, he hoped it would create interest in the area. The consensus of the commission was to recommend that the project go forward.
In other business last week:

• Ms. Darlene’s Daycare received approval from the commission on her business sign, with a recommendation that she tone down the white background.
• Commissioner Dave Colglazier provided an update of the status of potential legislation for reduced property taxes on historic properties, called discretionary easement HB246.

Rugg said the legislation would allow communities to reduce property taxes on historic properties. “It actually came out of the historic properties preservation task force,” Rugg said. “Assessors were concerned because it would be a reduction in income.”
Rugg said it had to be something that was consistent state wide.

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