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Save the Trees at Four Corners in Newton, MA!

This petition had 652 supporters

A developer has purchased the adjacent properties at 1058 Beacon Street, 956 Walnut Street and 962 Walnut Street (the southeast corner of Four Corners) and has requested and received a permit to cut down 66 large old shady trees and countless others on those 3 properties. This will effectively clear cut all the trees on the right hand side of the above photo.

The beautiful character of the Four Corners Newton neighborhood we all love is defined by the irreplaceable, natural tree canopy provided by the forest of trees on the southeast corner of Walnut and Beacon Streets. Anyone walking along the Sudbury aqueduct, sitting outside of Whole Foods, or strolling around the neighboring Newton Highlands and Newton Center benefits from this piece of nature. 

We would like to preserve the trees, and the first step in doing so is to prevent their removal.

 ***Please help support our neighborhood and SAVE THE TREES by signing this petition to appeal the Tree removal permit!***


Below is the letter we are sending to Mayor Setti Warren to appeal the Tree removal Permit:

Dear Mayor Setti Warren,

In accordance with Newton Ordinance 21-83(g), we are seeking to appeal the issuance of the Tree Permit for 956 Walnut St, 962 Walnut St and 1058 Beacon St (which allows for the removal of ~66 trees) for the following reasons:

1) The Tree Permit was approved with conditions that stipulate “Any update or changes to the removal or planting of trees on this site requires City approval first”. In order for the Applicant to abide by this condition, he would have to know what final planting of trees is approved as part of the Special Permit process he intends to undertake PRIOR to tearing down the trees in accordance with the submitted plan.

If the applicant removes the trees now and the subsequent Special Permit process calls for a modification of his original planting plan, he will be in breach of the permit conditions but there will be no remedy to bring back any trees that the Special Permit indicates should have remained.

2) Additionally, we believe the Tree Plan as submitted does not adequately contain the following items as required by Newton Ordinance:

1. 21-83(a):

(5) Any proposed grade changes which might adversely affect or endanger any protected tree with a statement prepared by a certified arborist explaining how each such protected tree shall be protected and maintained.

(6) The proposed method of protecting the remaining protected trees during the course of construction

For the few existing trees that are to be preserved, the Tree Permit does not address adequate protection of these trees as required by the referenced ordinance. Additionally, there are many abutting neighbor trees with drip lines/canopies that overhang the subject properties, which also need to be protected. It is imperative that details surrounding grade changes and construction methods are well-outlined in the Tree Permit so as to ensure unintentional tree damage does not occur.

2. 21-85 (b) (1):A replacement tree shall be of the same or similar species or such other species as deemed advisable by the tree warden in accordance with the Tree Manual and shall have the same or equivalent size as measured in DBH inches as that of the protected tree that has been removed.

The current Tree Permit does not adequately conform to the requirement that replacement trees be of the ‘same’ or ‘similar’ species. If the tree warden chooses to advise on a non-same or non-similar replacement tree, a justification as to why this is deviation of species is desirable would be required to conform with this ordinance. At a minimum, deciduous vs non-deciduous, species type, etc should be factors considered when determining appropriate replacements. Arborvitae are not at all similar to oak or maple trees in look, canopy, or any relatable metric other than they are both trees. While we appreciate Arborvitae are a cost effective solution, they, along with American Holly and Leyland Cypress trees will never offer any tree canopy yet make up the majority of the replacement caliper inches in the currently approved plan. Caliper inches should not be the only criteria for consideration when evaluating a tree plan on this scale, and the referenced ordinance outlines the spirit of what replacement trees are intended to be used upon removal of protected trees very clearly.

For the aforementioned reasons, we appeal the issuance of the Tree Permit and believe it should be revoked in its entirety at this time. We believe the referenced Tree Permit requires detail outlining how the applicant will care for protected trees, more similar types of replacement tree species, and most importantly, it requires conditions allowing for removal of trees to be permissible only upon issuance of a Special Permit with approved tree plan. 

While we recognize the latter Special Permit with tree plan condition should not generally be a required Tree Permit condition, we feel that in the instance where the referenced tree removal activities are clearly pre-development work in the context of a larger Special Permit development process, and the approved replacement plan is clearly not going to be executed by the applicant on a standalone basis without Special Permit approval for a larger development project, it is a justifiable condition to ensure the Tree Plan is followed as originally intended.


 The Four Corners Neighborhood Group

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