Tree-cutting questions linger in New Gloucester

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NEW GLOUCESTER – Selectmen this week got an earful from a standing-room-only crowd unhappy about a tree-harvesting project that cut through Swamp and Tobey roads.

People said they were worried about the extensive right-of-way cutting along sections of two seasonal roads that have no homes or utilities on them.

Tobey Road resident Debbie May and others raised the issue two weeks ago, saying they were stunned to find the single-lane, gravel road carved wide enough for an airstrip.

May told selectmen this week that she was astonished by the number of phone calls she received giving her support for speaking up.

She and others questioned the town’s contracting out the road maintenance work in exchange for the wood that was cut.

“How did we enter a deal with a woodcutter that the cost was $1,000 and the value of the wood $12,000?” May asked.

The board agreed to look into the matter in executive session. No action was taken following the closed-door meeting.

Chairman Steve Libby has said that light trimming and cutting was all that had been planned for the area. Instead, loggers cut a 60-foot swath during a harvest between March 6 and March 20.

The road sections, closed to winter travel and maintenance, span nearly 2 miles along land owned by Chandler Brothers, a family-owned, multiple-use tree farm and gravel pit enterprise.

Selectmen said that no further work should be performed on the two roads except to keep the roads passable for emergency vehicles and travel.

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