Selectman says trees on Little Turnpike Road cut illegally

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SHIRLEY — Selectman Andy Deveau told board members and the public at a July 13 meeting about alleged unauthorized tree-cutting on Little Turnpike Road.

The actions apparently unnerved Shirley Department of Public Works foreman Paul Farrar, who called Deveau about it last Saturday morning. The two went in Farrar’s truck to take a look.

Deveau said he saw “extreme tree-cutting activity” at 43 Turnpike Road, where town-owned trees had been removed from the roadside in front of the home and from property within the municipal right-of-way, allegedly without the town’s permission.

“Understand, this is not the first time this has happened,” Deveau said.

According to Deveau, Flag Tree Service allegedly cut down 16 town-owned trees at the site, ranging from 8 inches to 32 inches in diameter. Some of the larger trees may have been at least 100 years old and are “irreplaceable,” Deveau said.

The perimeter of tree-cutting activity ranged from 30 to 280 inches from the paved roadway, Deveau said, including the 16 trees within the 66-foot town right of way.

Flagg has been in business for many years. Its founder, Harvey Flagg, is a longtime Shirley resident who at one time served as the town’s tree warden. Those duties were later added to the former DPW director’s job. The responsibility now belongs to Farrar, Deveau said.

Although Farrar apparently came upon the recent deforestation too late to stop it, Deveau said it appears that at least two Massachusetts statutes may have been violated.

When Deveau asked him about it, Flagg said the homeowner indicated the town had approved the tree removal. But Deveau said the process includes a permit, public hearings and notices attached to trees slated for removal.

Photos that Farrar took at the scene show a denuded landscape with Post-it notes tacked to the stumps. That’s evidence, Deveau said, in case Flagg grinds the stumps.

Deveau said he brought the matter up for the record and as a heads-up to the board.

The selectmen agreed to take the issue up again at a future meeting.

In other business, the selectmen officially appointed former acting police Chief John Gregory Massak as a full-time permanent police chief. He was sworn in by Town Clerk Amy McDougall.

A lifelong Lunenburg resident, Massak received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1975 and was hired as a Shirley police officer July 1, 1985. He gradated from the Police Academy in December 1985.

He was promoted to sergeant in 1989 and to lieutenant in 2003. He was appointed acting police chief in 2009, when former police Chief Paul Thibodeau retired.

In keeping with tradition, Massak’s wife, Kim Massak, pinned on his new badge. The two live in Lunenburg with their three sons.

Massak then requested the next appointment on the agenda.

Veterinarian Keri Mitton, of Shirley was unanimously appointed the animal-control officer. The board had accepted the resignation of J. Howlett, who had held the post for the past five years. Mitton specializes in large farm animals. She will work with assistant ACO Earl Hamel. Praising Hamel for his work, Massak said he hopes he will stay on and help the new ACO get up to speed with the town’s animal-control issues.