We’re all in this together

This question has probably been around since the advent of overhead power lines and perhaps especially since the great ice storm of 2008, but it comes up again because Eversource, our regional power company, has asked the Amherst Planning Board to host a public hearing on its plan to remove about 26 trees from most or all of the scenic roads.

Remembering to learn from, and not repeat, the past, Gordon Leedy, the community development director, asked for two hearings because three years ago, an Eversource plan to cut 70 trees along Pond Parish Road drew many protesters to one hearing.

And that was just for one road. Imagine how many folks from Mack Hill, Green, Lyndeborough, County and, again, Pond Parish, roads might turn up this time.

Their concern would be, of course, the same as it was three years ago: the potential loss of their tree canopies, for which we cannot blame them. Trees are integral to the remaining rural feel of our communities.

But Eversource says it will be only targetting dead or sick trees and won’t even remove those without permission from landowners. That does not sound unreasonable.

And as Leedy said recently, it’s a balancing act between having reliable power and keeping several hundred property owners happy because a tree coming down on, say, Green Road and taking out a power line doesn’t only disrupt power to that road. It can affect large portions of the town.

In other words, we’re all in this together.

One problem that homeowners are sure to bring up is what Leedy and other planning board members said was a terrible job of tree cutting on Amherst Street by Asplundh, the company Eversource hires to cut the trees. They said Asplundh shaved off the sides of pine trees, which seems an absurd way to trim anything. Perhaps Asplundh had a good reason.

But it’s important to keep power going, and if the target is dead and sick trees, we find little about which to complain. Still, it’s important to hear from property owners.

But Leedy has a good point: Two meetings might be the best way to go, perhaps designating the first for a few streets, the second for the others.