Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A PC Dilemma

Middle tree (pin oak) standing in the way of solar

When two admirable goals collide -- especially when they concern anything "green" -- how do you decide which worthy option prevails?

In this case reducing carbon footprint by going solar vs killing a tree that provides shade in the summer, absorbs evil carbon dioxide and helps to prevent storm water run off. 

For the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee, having to decide whether a homeowner should be allowed to remove a stately old pin oak tree to allow the sun better access to solar panels going up on his house and garage, the decision was an easy one.  Let the tree live.

Although the Committee did vote during a site visit last month to allow the one next to it to go, which tree warden Alan Snow confirmed was in bad shape.  APSTC has no control over trees on private property. 

The homeowner is going to remove additional trees on his property but plans to replant smaller ones in their place to "offset the carbon footprint."

 Adjacent pin oak (resembling a y) will be removed

At the public hearing yesterday the homeowner did not help his case all that much.  He cited a contractors estimate of only a 15% loss of solar efficiency caused by the tree and suggested if the Shade Tree Committee prevented him from neutralizing this tree on town property he would be forced to take out a much larger pin oak further back on his property.

To which member Nonny Burack responded, "That sounds like a threat to me."  The homeowner snapped back, "No, it's a plan."

The Shade Tree Committee unanimously reaffirmed their vote from the previous site visit to stay the execution of the 19" diameter tree.

Tree Warden Alan Snow, who has final authority, said although the oak was "beat up" by the 2011 October Halloween storm it was still "healthy" and he thought it would be "nice to give it a shot."

The Tree Warden quickly ruled  to "deny removal of the tree."  But he did say he would meet with the contractors to decide how best to prune the tree to allow better sun exposure on the solar panels.

Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee (currently looking for one new member)


Anonymous said...

Why did they ask for permission to take down the tree in the first place? I assume it is on their land.

Better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission!!!

Larry Kelley said...

No, the tree is "in the public right of way" and if he took it down without town permission he would be fined a fair amount.

Anonymous said...

What kind of fine would be levied, you think? Would the savings with going solar-powered eventually make up that cost?

It's hilarious, it really is, because look at the environmental damage caused by big business the world over, and this poor guy can't even surgically remove a tree.

Anonymous said...

My carbon footprint is tiny. Not having kids reduces eons upon generations of carbon users to...well... Just 1 . I hereby loan some credits to the folks involved . Get rid of the solar panels and the tree as well. Burn coal! The tree will grow again.

Anonymous said...

PC? What makes your politics more correct than mine?

Anonymous said...

I've read that when presented with this dilemma, it is better for the environment to leave the trees and forego the solar installation.

Anonymous said...

More foolishness this town has inserted themselves in. Maybe they can transplant one of the $600,000 shade trees they planted in the woods along South East street.

Anonymous said...

Too much government involvement

Anonymous said...

Solar panels save a few pennies. Trees save your sanity.

Anonymous said...

Only in Amherst do people actually believe they are saving the planet. Carbon footprint. Funny!!

Anonymous said...

Cut this one down and plant 2 more for me to hug (but not simultaneously ;-) on the north side of the house which I can hug - don't lose so much sleep over it!

- The Lorax

Anonymous said...

A solar company is going door to door in Amherst offering solar panels (some deal through WMECO they say)
Folks are signing on in droves!

Reviews of the company and the program are not good (lots of delays and unsatisfied customers)

Do your research and read the fine print!

Anonymous said...

We invented ownership to solve these types of issues long ago. Who ever owns the tree simply makes the decision about the tree's future. There done. It is a lot like your underware, firewood, pizza and your children. Simply yours. Listen to others opinions and do what you want.

The law is actually meaningless, because you can easily get around it, like speeding in your car, or often, drunk driving.

The owner of this tree can simple girdle it and then the tree will have to come down. Someone could come in the middle of the night and do it. The owner can do it and say he did not know who did it. Then the collectivists will have no say or if they did, they would be responsible to protect people by cutting the tree.

Girdling is simply the process of going 360 around the tree putting a break in the bark down to the wood. People take a simple hand saw and cut a circle around the tree about 1/2"-1" deep. This is like cutting the wrists of the tree. Most people will not even notice until the tree starts to not leaf out. The tree will not be able to get the sap/fluid to flow and it will die within a year or two. Learned how to do this at UMASS in Amherst.

Don't do this though unless you really own a tree. It sounds like the one in the article is owned by the community, like everything else in Amherst.....

Wide open spaces said...

Ridiculous. We have more trees in Amherst than we need. Cut them down and improve the views and safety along roads. Enjoy the mental benefits of being able to SEE and not be closed in by trees. Less trees = more happiness. Keep them in the forests where they belong, not adjacent to public ways.