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Ferrisburgh farmers could face fine for illegal tree-cutting

FERRISBURGH — The Vorsteveld Farm could technically be fined up to $1,088,000 for cutting down 1,870 trees and shrubs with trunks of less than six inches in diameter and another 306 trees with larger trunks, all along a 0.75-mile stretch of Ferrisburgh’s Arnold Bay Road, according to Ferrisburgh Tree Warden Clifton Mix. 
Mix included those calculations in a May 16 letter to the selectboard that the board reviewed at its meeting that evening. 
The tree warden said those numbers were based on an inventory that he conducted on May 10 of clear-cutting the Vorstevelds had done earlier in the town right-of-way along Arnold Bay Road.
According to Vermont law, landowners may not cut trees in a town right-of-way without first receiving permission from a town tree warden, and the fine is up to $500 per tree for “any person who willfully critically injures or cuts down a public shade tree without written permission of a tree warden or legislative body of the municipality.”
Mix concluded that the Vorsteveld Farm should be fined and required to fix the damage. 
“Therefore, I recommend a monetary penalty as well as full rehabilitation of the area affected. Full rehabilitation shall include stumping and cleanup/removal of all stumps and woody debris and the installation of an appropriate species to establish an aesthetic hedgerow occupying the entire affected area, approximately 0.75 miles. The species is to be determined by the tree warden,” he wrote.
Ferrisburgh Selectboard Chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said she would ask the Vorstevelds to a selectboard meeting to discuss the issue again. At an earlier meeting they said they wanted to extend crops closer to the road and discussed the possibility of tree plantings, and Lawrence said she did not believe they were aware of the law.
“I think we’re going to invite them to our next board meeting, because people are complaining,” she said.
In other business at their May 16 meeting, board members:
• Discussed their recent town plan hearing, but did not set a date for a required second hearing. Lawrence said board members are still researching how and why a small area along the east side of Route 7 near Lewis Creek that had been mapped commercial was now in a rural zone. A planner at the town plan hearing could not clarify the issue, and the plan itself seems to contradict the map. 
Lawrence said the board is keeping an open mind about the change in case there is a strong rationale buried in the minutes, but that research has yet to uncover one.
• Met with Treasurer Deb Healey who announced her regular daily hours would be 9 a.m. until noon. “Those are guaranteed hours,” Lawrence said. “At tax time she’ll be staying longer.”

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