Letter to the Editor: Chamber’s Economic Development Council opposes tree-cutting article

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(Editor’s note: The following is an open letter to the Planning Board regarding a proposed tree-cutting bylaw that is to be discussed at the board’s March 15 meeting.)

On behalf of the Hopkinton Chamber’s Economic Development Council, please let this letter serve as our overwhelming opposition to the proposed tree protection article. It is clear that a few key questions and points need to be injected into the discussion with particular focus on the contradictions that this article creates when paired with our existing zoning bylaws.

There is certainly reason for concern and complaint over recent solar development and how that has impacted some of our abutting neighborhoods. This is a task worth taking action on. However, this article is far too overreaching and creates more problems than it solves.

There is a reason that Hopkinton is such a special community and in part is a result of our albeit complex but well-planned zoning. The very zoning that has resulted in creating the town that we all know and love.

If the goal here is to limit solar development, is it wise that prudent commercial and residential development be collateral damage? That prudent growth which we frankly need desperately to keep our budgets and corresponding taxes at a reasonable level.

Furthermore, there is a question of government overreach here. Such a restrictive bylaw that tells property owners which trees they can cut down has the potential to open the town up to lawsuits.

We would ask that the Planning Board look at alternative strategies that focus clearly on solar development instead of a dangerous blanket bylaw which creates more red tape, confusion and contradictions.

— J. Nicholas Slottje, Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and chair, Economic Development Council

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