FARMINGTON — A separate Tree Ordinance could be ready for adoption by voters at the March 25 annual Town Meeting.

An ordinance with all tree-related information in one document is needed in order to be named a Tree City USA, Conservation Commission Chair Bill Haslam told selectmen at their Jan. 9 meeting.

“We have been put on notice by the Arbor Day Foundation that we have some items in our Zoning Ordinance that address development and that is not really what they are after in the Tree City USA designation,” he said. “What they are after is a more general Tree Ordinance to do with tree planting, removing and maintenance on public rights of way, on public properties.”

Haslam said private land is not part of the discussion. “The basics are what is to be done with trees in the public right of way, trees in parks and other public lands,” he noted. That could be as simple as addressing trees on town streets or parks, he stated.

Several Tree Ordinances from across the country were shared with the board, which varied widely in what was covered.

“At some point we need to have a more detailed ordinance for tree care,” Haslam added.


“I believe what is needed is already in town ordinances,” Patty Cormier, a commission member and Maine Forest Service director,” said. “It is just a matter of consolidating it all into one document and designating authority, which could be the commission. It is pretty darn simple. Not something to worry about.”

Farmington has been a Tree City USA for more than 40 years, which is amazing when there are four elements to it: having forests, having an ordinance, providing so much money per capita for tree care and maintenance, and celebrating Arbor Day, she noted.

“For some reason Farmington has been given a pass,” Cormier said. “Within the last two years the Arbor Day Foundation, which oversees the program reviewed all the cities in the country for their ordinances. In Maine there were two towns that were deemed not acceptable. They were going to remove Farmington and this other community, which would just be unfortunate.”

Cormier said it was good for Farmington to be designated a Tree City USA. She thought the elements were already in town ordinances, that state laws would cover private interactions with trees so they wouldn’t need to be in the town ordinance.

“There just needs to be something written up,” she noted. “Just simple, clear language.”

Selectman Joshua Bell agreed the ordinance didn’t need to be complicated for roads. He asked if the commission would work with Code Enforcement to come up with a draft to present to the Zoning Board, if it could be done in time to bring to the annual Town Meeting for voter approval.


Haslam said the commission could do that.

“That would be nice,” Chair Matthew Smith said.

Selectman Stephan Bunker noted the steps needed and timeline involved in order to bring an ordinance to voters for consideration. In addition to going before the Zoning and Select boards, a public hearing must be held a certain number of days before the vote. The ordinance should not be too complex given the time frame, he urged.

Town Manager Erica LaCroix said it looks good for Arbor Day Foundation to have Tree Cities.

Public Works will be involved with developing the ordinance, Haslam said. He confirmed town cemeteries would be included in the ordinance.

“You don’t need a motion,” LaCroix verified when asked. “You have given guidance.”

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