Nuisance trees to remain for now


In Bristol, if a town owned tree that is otherwise healthy causes damage to personal property, the homeowner may have to live with the nuisance.

Bryan McWilliams, who owns a home at 114 Hopeworth Ave., sought the advice of the Town Council on Wednesday, June 25, after Tree Warden Mike King refused his request to remove two of the three pine trees from the edge of his property.

Mr. McWilliams said that since buying his home in 1997, the town-owned pine trees on the sidewalk of Berry Lane abutting his property have become a nuisance and he has offered to pay for their removal and replanting of deciduous trees in their stead.

“Sap and other residue are getting onto our vehicles. Branches have broken our fence panels,” Mr. McWilliams told members of the Town Council.

But, said Mr. King, “the two large pine trees are healthy trees.”

With the town administrator’s office receiving about 25 tree-related requests each week for pruning, trimming and removal, those that present a safety risk are given priority.

“Anything could happen. In my best opinion these trees are fairly safe,” Mr. King said. “I see so many other trees that need work.”

By allowing homeowners to pay for town trees they don’t want, it could set a precedent, he said. “It might set off a frenzy,” Mr. King said.

To date, the town grants the removal of a tree if it has failed and is unhealthy, if it needs to be removed to allow for a curb cut, or if it poses a safety hazard.

Council Vice President Halsey Herreshoff, after listening to the discussion, decided the trees should be spared. “My inclination is to follow your recommendation,” he told Mr. King.

Town Administrator Tony Teixeira, who by town charter regulates the tree warden’s activities, was unsure.

“My initial reaction is that they should be removed,” he said.

With no decision made, the Town Council agreed to revisit the matter at its next meeting.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.