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Letter to the Editor: Tree cutting was a reasonable act

I have been following with interest the ongoing disagreement between the Vorsteveld brothers and officials of the town of Ferrisburgh regarding the cutting of trees in the road right-of-way. Although it will be costly to both the brothers and the town I do hope that the basic question can eventually be brought to the Vermont Supreme Court. The basic question being: aside from providing a course for a public road and, with that, addressing any concurrent safety issues, can the use a right-of-way be controlled by town officials for any other purposes?
I think not. I have not researched this subject to any great extent but, common sense suggests that when the right-of-way was granted to a town for a roadway, the landowner granting the right-of-way did not envision giving the town carte blanche to do whatever they wished within that area.
Town control of trees planted within rights-of-way, and erection (or not) of fences, hedges, signs, etc. is reasonable in those areas where those actions would impact the safety of traffic on the roadway. With a bit of a stretch then, town control of shade trees within densely populated areas could also be considered reasonable.
However, the Vorsteveld tree cutting was in a rural area where the provision of shade is not at question and, in fact, given the higher speed of traffic in such an area, it probably provides more safety to any driver that may have the bad fortune to leave the road. If it came to that, I would much rather drive into an open field than a tree. How about you?
I think the town of Ferrisburgh should thank the Vorstevelds for enhancing the traffic safety along that road and adding productive farmland to the town.
Jim Peabody, Sr
Bristol

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