And the Survey says…….(Easter Egg Hunt Postponed to April 6th); Friends of Saxonville Annual Meeting

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. As you can see, the top two choices were to hold the hunt in the snow and postpone till April 6th. In the end, postponing it till April 6th won out, so that is what we’ll do. Everything will stay the same at this point (start time, etc).
Have Easter bunny hand out eggs this Saturday (at the park or at a house/driveway)
8.5%    4
Hold Easter Egg hunt in snow
27.7%    13
Postpone till Saturday, April 6th
57.4%    27
Cancel the event and hope for better weather next year
6.4%    3

II. Friends of Saxonville:

The 2013 Friends of Saxonville Annual Meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 9th in the Education Building of Edwards Church, 39 Edwards Street in Framingham.  The primary topic of the meeting is the Friends’ plan to restore The Athenaeum Hall for public use.  Please join us for light refreshments and discover how you can help restore the Athenaeum to its original purpose and stature.  This is a perfect opportunity for you to renew your membership or to join The Friends and offer strong support to this worthy community endeavor. 

For more information, visit www.saxonville.org or contact : John @ (508) 877—6771

Dave @ (508) 877-7034

Flyer.An.Me.2013.v5

Community Meeting; NSTAR Gas

Good afternoon,

Hopefully everyone has had the chance to dig out after the 32″ that was dumped on Framingham on Friday/Saturday.

Community Meeting

We wanted to send a friendly reminder that the Community Meeting with the Framingham Police Department will be held tomorrow night (Tuesday) beginning at 7 pm in Nevins Hall (Town Hall).
NSTAR Gas
Please see attached document for more information on the NSTAR Gas program that may be headed to parts of our neighborhood. Here is a brief explanation of what is happening (this is from Gene Novak):….Shelby with NSTAR is conducting another survey to confirm sufficient interest. Knowing that oil prices are back on the rise I know interest will be there. I will scan and e-mail the form letter they sent me a few days ago. Shelby contact information is 781-441-8530 and shelby.guisti@nstar.com.….

NSTAR Gas document

Thank you,

The ONA board

URGENT: CALLS SHOULD BE MADE TODAY- WEDNESDAY REGARDING PROPOSED (NSTAR) LEGISLATION

Hello Neighbors

Today through Wednesday of this week we all need to make calls to support pending legislation which has been filed in response to the NSTAR clear cutting. This is one of the most effective measures we can take right now in the continuing NSTAR battle.

OVERVIEW
Our three State Reps (Walsh, Conroy and Sannicandro) filed an amendment (Amendment 37) to house energy bill 4198 which would hold utility companies such as NSTAR responsible for the removal and cutting of trees. The amendment would also require utilities to replace any damaged trees and plants already cut by utility companies and it would require them to file their vegetation management plans with the State Dept. of Public Utilities for review every 4 years which would include public hearings prior to the plans being approved. (Language included below.)

PROCESS
This amendment has passed the house and right now it is in conference committee. We need to call the members of the conference committee and tell them why it’s important to support this. Tell them what has happened to our landscape and the method in which it has been done with little regard for safety, aesthetics, communications, etc. Make sure they know you understand and support the need for reliable power but it can and should be achieved with a balance between corporate responsibility and quality of life, etc., which is more likely with this vegetation management plan requirement included in the final bill. Calls are counted and they do make a difference.

The chairs of the committee that the bill came out of originally are Rep. John Keenan and Senator Ben Downing. The House number is H4225. The amendment regarding vegetation maintenance is in that bill and will hopefully put into the final version of the bill. Brian says it would be good to tell your personal stories. There is “nothing stronger than why/how the amendment will benefit the residents. Telling their story about what has happened to the neighborhood is an effective way to paint the picture of why it is important to them. The residents should be sure to mention that the amendment is in the House bill and has to do with the department of Public Utilities creating regulations about maintenance of vegetation lines.”

Representative John Keenan
State House, Room 437B
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-2263

Representative Kate Hogan
State House, Room 544
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-2637

Representative Matthew Beaton
State House, Room 167
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-2230

Senator Benjamin Downing
State House, Room 413F
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-1625

Senator Stephen Brewer
State House, Room 212
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-1540

Senator Robert Hedlund
State House, Room 313C
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-1646

For your information, here is the language of the amendment:

The department of public utilizes shall promulgate rules and regulations requiring transmission companies to file and the department to approve vegetation management plans. Said plans shall also be filed with any affected municipality. Said plans shall include landscape management provisions which encourage to the greatest extent possible, the use of native species plants and shall consider local terrain including soil conditions and visual impacts. Prior to department approval, affected municipalities may comment on said plans.

Municipalities may file a complaint with the department if the transmission company does not comply with the terms of vegetation management plan.

Vegetation management plans shall be reviewed every four years and prior to approval department shall hold a public hearing.

Transmission companies shall provide sixty days notice to affected abutters of the transmission lines, and said department, of actions to be performed pursuant to the vegetation management plan approved pursuant to this section. This notice shall also be sent to municipal officials of affected communities including but not limited to elected officials, selectman, planning board members, and conservation commission members. Transmission companies shall be exempt from the requirements of this paragraph in preparation for an imminent emergency exit.

In the course of maintaining reliability of power along transmission line right of ways, including easements covering private and public property, each transmission company shall restore deleteriously affected vegetation in the form of replanting of trees and other vegetation and shall complete stump grindings wherever trees have been cut to the stump such that the company partially restores the pre-vegetation management activity property value of affected property owners. This paragraph shall apply only to activity that has occurred after January 1, 2012 and prior to January 1, 2014 or the approval of a company’s first vegetation management plan filed in accordance with this section.

Audrey Hall
Framingham Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3
Member, Oaks Neighborhood Association
ms.audreyhall@gmail.com

Boston Globe Article: Nstar clear cuts trees near transmission lines

As NStar clear-cuts trees near transmission lines, communities resist

www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/07/18/nstar-clear-cuts-trees-near-transmission-lines-community-opposition-heats/HL51iknEtJkClG1iLb3frI/story.html

For more than 20 years, pine trees surrounded Ellen Sard’s Sudbury backyard. But in June her half-acre was transformed by crews clearing vegetation around high-voltage transmission lines for NStar.

In less than two hours, the pines she had planted were all chopped down.

“It was such a violation,” said Sard, who acknowledges that NStar has an easement on the property. Now, 22 stumps dot her backyard, and she has a clear view of the towering power lines.

Officials at NStar, which came under heavy criticism after widespread power outages last year, say clear-cutting around transmission lines is the only way to guarantee consistently reliable power. But communities are increasingly up in arms over the the utility’s integrated vegetation management program, launched in 2010. In Sudbury, tensions between tree cutters and residents ran so high that a police detail was called in to keep the peace.

“For them to come in and just clear cut — it’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” said Michael Retzky, chairman of the Park and Recreation Commission in Needham, where officials vow to fight the utility’s plans. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

This year, NStar has cleared trees in Sherborn, Framingham, Natick, Wayland, and Sudbury. Now they are starting on a 17-mile stretch of transmission lines that runs from Southborough to West Roxbury.

“Trees are the number-one cause of power outages,” said Michael Durand, spokesman for NStar. “As a utility, we have an obligation to do everything in our power to prevent them.”

Durand pointed to a massive Northeast blackout in 2003 that cut off power to nearly 50 million people in the United States and 10 million more people in Canada after high-voltage lines came in contact with tree branches in northeastern Ohio. That blackout, he said, is what inspired NStar’s new policy.

So far, communities have had no success stopping NStar, which holds easements for its rights of way and, like all utilities, is required by federal regulations to have a vegetation management plan to prevent power outages along transmission lines.

A measure requiring utilities to review such plans with the state Department of Public Utilities and affected municipalities is awaiting approval in the Legislature and could become effective early next month, said state Representative Denise Garlick, a Needham Democrat who worked on the measure.

The measure would strengthen the town’s ability to negotiate with NStar over mitigation and restoration, she said, but it would not legally bar NStar from continuing its work.

Last August, Tropical Storm Irene knocked out power for more than 500,000 NStar customers. Last October, more than 200,000 NStar customers lost power after a snowstorm — and many of those outages, said Durand, were caused by falling trees. The utility is currently facing the possibility of hefty fines over its response to the two storms after the Department of Public Utilities was flooded with complaints, according to a spokeswoman for the department. Some of those complaints, she said, concerned the utility’s failure to cut down trees that ended up falling into power lines.

Under NStar’s policy, no trees with the potential to grow higher than 3 feet will be allowed to remain under high-voltage transmission wires; no trees with the potential to grow higher than 15 feet will be allowed to remain in the border zone. The policy does not apply to lower-voltage distribution power lines that run along neighborhood streets.

Needham officials are pushing for a middle ground — selective cutting, for example — but NStar says that the only sure way to prevent large-scale outages is to take trees down completely. Cutting off the tops of trees, as the utility used to do, is no longer working, said Durand — it actually weakens trees over time and makes them more prone to toppling onto wires.

About 4 miles of high-voltage transmission lines run the length of Needham: The trees within 100 feet of them will be clear-cut.

The lines run along commuter rail train tracks, through neighborhoods and alongside town fields, like DeFazio Park. The tracks are elevated — town officials fear erosion if the trees anchoring the dirt are removed — and neighbors say the trees that will be cut serve as a buffer for neighbors from the sound, pollution, and view of the train tracks. Residents worry that the value of their homes will fall if the trees are chopped down.

“Right now, my house faces vegetation,” said Paul Kelly, an abuttor who lives near DeFazio. “If they do what they say, my house will face scorched earth.”

In Sudbury, selectmen voted symbolically earlier this year to declare a moratorium on NStar’s clear-cutting. “It didn’t didn’t have any teeth to it,” said Larry O’Brien, chairman of the board. “We don’t have the power to stop NStar.”

The police detail was called in to keep things calm as tree crews worked. Still, between the end of the workday on June 20 and the morning of June 21, someone vandalized tree-clearing machinery, causing $5,000 worth of damage, according to Sudbury Police Lieutenant Scott Nix.

The incident is still under investigation, he said.

In Wayland, Meadowview Road resident Robert Noa filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court to stop NStar from cutting down his trees.

It bought him a little time, but early this month a judge ruled that NStar’s easement does, indeed, grant the utility the right to clear his property.

“I want hot water and cold beer just as much as anybody else does, I really do,” Noa said. “I am not and never have been trying to prevent them from doing maintenance and tree work. But . . . their policy has been topping and trimming trees. And it has demonstrably worked.”

Still, Needham officials remain hopeful that they can persuade NStar to scale back. Garlick is working with NStar to plan a meeting so town representatives can lay out their case.

No one in town is disputing the need for reliable electricity, but town officials say that must be balanced against the fact that clear-cutting trees is too drastic a solution.

“Even if they have the technical authority to do what they’re proposing to do,” said Needham selectman Moe Handel, “I don’t believe they have the moral right to degrade the quality of people’s lives along a path that their transmission lines go through.”

Contact State Reps

Hello Neighbors,

In the Patch article below you’ll see that the House has responded to our concerns. Now it’s on to the Senate after new legislation written by Reps. Chris Walsh, Tom Conroy and Tom Sannicandro in response to our input and concerns has passed the house. Please take a moment to thank our State Reps and to contact as many Senators as possible to ask them to support it as well. With their support it will then go to the governor’s desk to become law.  The Senators’ office aids keep a record of the number of calls they get on all topics and that information is passed onto the Senators for consideration when the votes come up.

Here are the contact numbers for all state reps and senators.

www.malegislature.gov/People/House/

Have a great day and a very Happy 4th!

Audrey Hall

Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3

Member, Oaks Neighborhood Association

******************************

House Agrees to Tree Cutting Amendment Filed By Framingham Reps

Framingham’s trio of state representatives filed an amendment to hold utility companies, like NSTAR, responsible for the removal and cutting of trees.

Responding to concerns from residents, Framingham’s trio of state representatives filed an amendment to hold utility companies, including NSTAR, responsible for the removal and cutting of trees. The amendment would also require utilities to replace any damaged trees and plants already cut by utility companies.

Since May, residents from Framingham, and later joined by neighborhoods in Sudbury, Wayland and Natick, have complained that NSTAR has been excessively cutting trees, destroying neighborhoods and reducing property values.

NSTAR has mainatined the tree work is required by law and needed to prevent power outages.

The amendment, which passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives at the end of June, would require utility companies to file their vegetation paring plans with the state Department of Public Utilities, who will review plans every four years, work with the companies to tweak the proposals, and hold public hearings prior to plan approval.

Framingham State Representatives Chris Walsh, Tom Conroy, and Tom Sannicandro filed a joint amendment to House Bill 4198: An act relative to competitively priced electricity that addresses tree clearing along utility easements.

“This amendment really addresses the crux of the problems with the clear cutting of the easements that have so traumatized homeowners,” said Walsh. “We were looking to create assurances that residents would not be faced with the loss of quality of their environment or home values due to insensitive transmission line maintenance.”

“We made good progress with our amendment to the energy legislation to help the people of Framingham, Wayland, Sudbury whose property values have been damaged because of NSTAR’s clear cutting on their property,” said Conroy. “We will continue to push for this amendment to become law so that those who have lost trees, shrubs, and other vegetation in their yards will receive at least partial restoration of their property and the values of their homes.”

In May, Framingham Patch was the first to report about the massive number of trees cut at Reardon Park & Playground in the Oaks Neighborhood.

Since that report, Selectmen tried to get answers from NSTAR on the tree clearing process. A month later, Selectmen were still unhappy with the answers they had received and considered holding gas permit request from NSTAR hostage.

“This amendment attempts to address the concerns our constituents have expressed because of recent clear-cutting,” said Sannicandro. “Replacing the trees and plant life that’s been lost is important to the quality of life in our community.”

 

Special Town Meeting Petition

Updated on 7/3/12 @ 9:30 pm

I received an email from the Finance Committee chair regarding Steve’s email below. The chair wanted to express that the statements made regarding the Finance Committees support are not factual and that the committee has not discussed the special town meeting mentioned in his email.

I will investigate this matter and will update the post again asap.

Thank you,

Josh

 
***************************************************************************************************

This is from Steven Hakar. Please respond directly to him (his contact info is listed at the end):
****************************************************************************************************

I was putting together a petition for a special town meeting in Framingham, Wayland and Sudbury to stop NStar from treating the ground with chemicals under the high wires in Saxonville and to stop state and federal unfunded mandates. I have had wide support from the Finance Committee and Town meeting regarding the unfunded mandates.

I wanted to see if anyone would be available to help me obtain signatures on Wednesday July 4th beginning at 11am to around 2:00pm before and after the Sudbury parade.

See the details below:

On July 4th, at 1:00 PM, come out and enjoy Sudbury’s Annual 4th of July Parade celebrating our Country’s Independence.
Step off time is 1:00 p.m. on July 4th. Parade starts at Union Avenue and runs East along Rte 20 to Concord Road North, ending at Town Center.
The parade route is approximately 2 miles long.

Start Time: 1 p.m. on July 4, 2012 – Rain or shine!
End Time: Roughly 2:30 p.m.

Start Location: Corner of Union Ave and Route 20.
End Location: Sudbury Town Hall.

Article:

To see if the Towns of: Framingham , Sudbury and Wayland will vote to request that their Federal and State Representatives and Senators file legislation that will require anyone including the Utilities to: only place on theirs and/or anyone else’s property chemicals approve by the Board of Health and/or the Towns Health Officer, but only after a public hearing and written approval from said authority to use such chemical. If any chemicals have been used in the past then the Utility or whoever placed said chemicals on any real estate property must clean up said site to the approval of the Board of Health and/or the Towns Health Officer
Pass any vote or take any action relative thereto.

Article:
To see if the Towns of: Framingham , Sudbury and Wayland will vote to request that their Federal and State Representatives and Senators file legislation that will eliminate all unfunded State & Federal mandates. Further, the Town Meeting instructs the Moderator to notify all Massachusetts communities of Framingham’s action.
Pass any vote or take any action relative thereto.

Steve Hakar
10 Foley Drive
Framingham, MA
508-877-6007
hakar4@hotmail.com

Local legislators want to hold utility companies responsible for vegetation damage to properties

 

By Jaclyn Reiss, Town Correspondent

Local legislators are responsible for a measure passed by the state House of Representatives that would hold utility companies responsible for the removal and cutting of trees and other vegetation in routine safety pruning.

Click this link to read more of the story:

Local Legislators write and pass measure to hold utility companies responsible for the removal and cutting of trees…

NSTAR Update (6/28/12): Cutting to resume within the next week

We wanted to give you the heads up that NSTAR cutting crews will be back in the neighborhood as early as tomorrow (Friday, June 29th) to resume cutting. We are not sure where they will be cutting, but do know that the areas around the vernal pools and the trees at Saxonville Beach will not be cut at this time. We will provide more updates as we get them.

6/26/12 @ 4:30 PM (Cutting Near Foley/Chapplewood)

Good afternoon,

Nstar arborist Bill Hayes called to inform us that they have a tree crew on their way to Framingham in order to remove two trees damaged in last night’s storm, in the Foley Drive transmission line area. This is considered an emergency as these compromised trees pose an imminent threat. Only the two damaged trees will be removed. Call me with any questions or concerns 508-958-0889

Daniel Nau
Director | Highway & Sanitation

TOWN OF FRAMINGHAM
Department of Public Works
100 Western Avenue
Framingham, Massachusetts 01702