The following letter is to inform all members of our community that Eversource/NSTAR is currently issuing notifications to the Town of Needham (public lands) and private property owners that it intends to survey and then plans a second notification to cut trees along the transmission line. This letter shares the information available to date, advocates for a course of action including verifying survey lines and is an invitation to a public meeting.
The Town of Needham and property owners abutting some sections of the Eversource/NSTAR transmission line have been notified that the Utility plans to commence its transmission vegetation management program. The areas identified include public lands as well as the private abutters along the Transmission line in the Chestnut Street to Elmwood Road neighborhoods, and along the commuter rail to Baker Street in West Roxbury. We are aware that abutters to the right-of-way have received notification from Eversource/ NSTAR that Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) will be surveying the easements in the coming weeks.
In July 2012, Eversource/NSTAR had planned to “clear cut” the trees along the transmission line. Through the advocacy of residents, the Town of Needham and the legislative delegation, we were able to successfully delay the proposed work for several reasons. These included the need to improve communication regarding the work, the historical uniqueness of the deeds that resulted in confusion concerning the easement boundaries, safety, and the impact on the quality of life for abutters and the community. The Town’s legislative delegation was successful in enacting Chapter 216 of the Acts of 2012, An Act relative to the emergency service response of public utility companies, which took effect immediately because of an emergency preamble and along with the considerable work on the part of the Department of Public Utilities, now requires better communication between public utilities and stakeholders. However, the more pressing issues of the historical deeds and confusion regarding the easement boundaries, safety, and quality of life concerns persist.
Eversource/NSTAR has only recently responded to the Town’s letter of July 27, 2012. It had been agreed that no work would take place until a written response was secured. The Town’s original letter to Eversource/NSTAR, as well as the Eversource/NSTAR response are posted on the Town of Needham website under “Hot Topics” at www.needhamma.gov.
While we respect the responsibility of Eversource/NSTAR to assure uninterrupted operation of the power grid, we believe that it should only accomplish that goal within its legal limits and with respect for the needs of the abutters, Needham public properties, and the community at large. The transmission line in Needham, unlike those in many other municipalities, runs through the heart of our Town and we are all impacted.
It is also our understanding that Eversource/NSTAR will be issuing letters informing abutters of their intention to begin the cutting. The Department of Public Utility’s regulation (220 CMR 22.00) states that “Each Transmission Company also shall make a good faith effort to notify Abutters, Municipal Officials, and the Department not less than 30 days before commencing any transmission-related vegetation maintenance activities. Notice to Abutters shall be by: 1. first class mail and either; 2. electronic mail or door hangers”. This 30 calendar day period begins from the date of postmark of the letter and there can be no cutting during this period.
We are encouraging all property owners to take all steps to verify the (VHB) marked easement lines on their property as soon as possible. This may include hiring a professional surveyor and/or legal counsel.
We are also inviting all concerned individuals to a public meeting on Monday, October 5, 2015 in Powers Hall at Needham Town Hall at 7:00 pm. The purpose of this meeting is to inform, educate and support abutters to effectively advocate for their private properties.
Please know that we, as your Town Officials and your Legislative delegation, will work diligently with concerned abutters to produce the best possible outcome.
Yours in service,
Denise C. Garlick
Michael F. Rush
Richard J. Ross
Maurice (Moe) P. Handel
Needham Board of Selectmen, Chair
Matthew D. Borrelli
Needham Board of Selectmen, Vice Chair