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Town of Ashland, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 5-13-2003 ATM, Art. 14]
A. 
Authority. This bylaw is adopted under authority of Chapter 40, Section 15C and Chapter 40, Section 21 of the Massachusetts General Laws and Article II and Article LXXXIX, Section 6 of Articles of Amendment of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
B. 
Purpose. The purpose of this bylaw is to maintain rural, natural, historic and scenic character of the town's roadways. This bylaw ensures that:
(1) 
Town ways will be recommended for designation as scenic roads in accordance with the criteria stated in this bylaw; and
(2) 
Trees and stone walls within the right-of-way or layout of all designated scenic town roads will not be altered without the public hearing required by, or without following the other procedures set forth in this bylaw.
For terms not qualified or defined in Chapter 40, Section 15C of the Massachusetts General Laws the following meanings shall apply for the purpose of this bylaw:
CUTTING OR REMOVAL OF TREES
The removal of one or more trees, trimming of major branches, or cutting of roots or otherwise intentionally impacting the trees, sufficient in the Tree Warden's written opinion to cause eventual destruction of a tree.
REPAIR, MAINTENANCE, RECONSTRUCTION, OR PAVING WORK
Any work done within the right-of-way by any person or agency, public or private. Construction of new driveways or alteration of existing ones is included, insofar as it takes place within the right-of-way. Construction or alteration of water, sewer, electric, telephone, cable television, or other utilities within the right-of-way is also included.
ROAD
The entire right-of-way of a vehicular traveled right-of-way including any necessary appurtenances including bridge structures, drainage systems, retaining walls, traffic control devices and sidewalks, but not intersecting streets or driveways. The right-of-way includes the area on and within the boundaries of the public way. If the boundaries are not officially known, any affected tree or stone wall shall be presumed to be within the public right-of-way until shown to be otherwise.
STONE WALL
A continuous alignment of dry laid stones, at least two courses high, at least ten feet long and at least 50 years old.
TEARING DOWN OR DESTRUCTION OF STONE WALLS
The destruction of more than ten linear feet of stone wall involving more than one cubic foot of wall material per linear foot above existing grade. Temporary removal and replacement at the same location with the same materials is permitted without Planning Board approval if the Department of Public Works is notified before the work begins so that it confirms that the wall is properly replaced. Repair of stone wall, not involving tearing down or destruction of the wall, is not covered by this bylaw.
TREES
Shall include a tree whose trunk has a diameter of eight inches or more as measured four feet above ground.
In determining which roads or portions should be recommended to Town Meeting for designation as scenic roads, the following criteria must apply:
A. 
Overall scenic beauty;
B. 
Contribution of trees to scenic beauty;
C. 
Contribution of stone walls to scenic beauty;
D. 
Age and historic significance of roads, trees, and stone walls;
E. 
Built features such as historic buildings, historic monuments, historic burial grounds, historic structures, farm buildings and fencing; and
F. 
Road features such as historic layout, surface, carriage width, use restrictions, non-historic bridges.
The Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, the Conservation Commission, the Historical Commission, or a petition of ten (10) citizens of the town may propose the possibility for any Ashland road other than a numbered route or state highway being designated as a scenic road. The Planning Board then shall hold a public hearing notifying the Board of Selectmen, the Tree Warden, Department of Public Works, Conservation Commission, and the Historical Commission and the general public by advertising in a local paper twice. The first advertisement to appear at least fourteen days prior to the date of the hearing. The Planning Board shall make recommendation to Town Meeting on the merits of designation of the proposed road as scenic way. No road shall be designated a scenic road by Town Meeting unless such designation is favorably recommended by the Historical Commission. A majority vote of Town Meeting is required for designation. Following designation by Town Meeting, the Planning Board shall:
A. 
Notify all municipal departments that may take any action with respect to such road;
B. 
Notify the Massachusetts Department of Highway;
C. 
Indicate such designation on all maps currently in use by municipal departments; and
D. 
Notify all utility companies or other such parties, which may be working on the border of such road.
The seven roads previously designated as scenic roads by Ashland Annual Town Meeting shall retain their status as scenic for the purpose of the Scenic Road Bylaw.
A. 
Filing. Any person or organization or agency seeking the consent of the Planning Board under M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 15C regarding road repair, maintenance, reconstruction, or paving work that may involve the cutting or removal of trees or the tearing down of stone walls, or portions thereof, shall file a request with the Planning Board and submit the following information:
(1) 
The text of the legal notice identifying the location of the proposed location in terms enabling the readers to locate it with reasonable specificity on the ground without the need for additional plats or references, and describing in reasonable detail the proposed changes to trees and stone walls;
(2) 
A statement of purpose, or purposes, for the proposed action;
(3) 
Plans, drawings or other explanatory reference material showing the specific design or engineering details.
(4) 
Except in the case of town agencies, a fee sufficient for the cost of advertising and notification; and
(5) 
Any further explanatory material useful to adequately inform the Planning Board.
B. 
Notice. The Planning Board shall, as required by statute, give notice of its public hearing by twice advertising in a newspaper of general circulation in the area, with the first publication of the notice to be at least fourteen days prior to the hearing and the last seven days prior to the hearing. Copies of the notice shall be sent to the Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commission, Tree Warden, Historical Commission and Department of Public Works.
C. 
Timing of Hearing. The Planning Board shall hold a public hearing within 30 days of receipt of properly filed request, and shall make a decision within 45 days of that receipt, unless a longer time is agreed to by the applicant.
D. 
Reporting of Decision. The Planning Board shall, within 45 days of receipt of a properly filed request, submit a written determination of consent or denial to the applicant and send a copy thereof to the Board of Selectmen and the Town Clerk.
E. 
Public Shade Trees. Notice shall be given and Planning Board hearings shall be held in conjunction with those held by the Tree Warden acting under M.G.L., Chapter 87. Consent to an action by the Planning Board shall not be considered as consent by the Tree Warden or vice versa. A Planning Board decision shall contain a condition that no work shall take place until all the applicable provisions of M.G.L. Chapter 87 have been complied.
F. 
Emergency Repair. The procedures of this bylaw shall not apply when the Tree Warden acts in an emergency in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 87 to remove fallen trees or limbs which cause an obstruction to public travel or a dangerous situation with respect to utility lines.
In acting on applications concerning scenic roads, the Planning Board shall take into consideration the following:
A. 
Preservation of Natural Resources;
B. 
Preservation of Historic Resources;
C. 
Scenic and aesthetic characteristics;
D. 
Environmental Values;
E. 
Public Safety;
F. 
Local residential traffic patterns and overall traffic volume and congestion;
G. 
Compensatory actions proposed, such as tree and wall replacement;
H. 
Functional importance and urgency of repair, maintenance, reconstruction, or paving;
I. 
Additional evidence contributed by abutter, town agencies, and other interested parties;
J. 
Existence or absence of reasonable alternatives; and
K. 
Other planning information.
At a minimum, driveways shall be consistent with Ashland regulations for residential driveways and curb cuts and shall comply with this bylaw.
Only one driveway cut per lot onto any scenic road shall be allowed. A new driveway on a scenic road shall not exceed twelve feet in width.
Stone wall sections to be removed for a driveway shall not exceed the driveway width by more than one foot on either side. No tree with a trunk exceeding eight inches in diameter four feet above the ground shall be removed for a driveway unless the curb cannot be safely located elsewhere.
Failure to file with the Planning Board for permission to cut or remove trees or for destruction of any portion of a stone wall within the layout of any scenic road will require an immediate filing as detailed above and the applicant shall be required to restore the features if required by the Planning Board. This restoration shall consist of replacing the stone wall as necessary and replacing the trees cut on a square-inch per square inch basis (combined area of the replacement trees measured one foot above ground level to equal total area of the original tree trunk as measured at the stump) at locations specified by the Planning Board.
Failure to comply with duly issued decision of the Planning Board shall be subject to restoration as detailed above and other remedial measures that the Planning Board deems necessary, including, but not limited to the enforcement of the restoration measures as stated above. Any decision not carried out within two years of issue shall be void and shall require a new filing.
The Planning Board and the Tree Warden, where appropriate, shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this bylaw.
Any violation of this bylaw, M.G.L. Chapter 40, section 15C, or a Planning Board decision issued under this bylaw or M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 15C, shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed three hundred dollars per violation.