BELGRADE — All seven members of the Tree Committee announced their resignations, effective later this month, in a letter sent to the Board of Selectpersons last week, citing a lack of appreciation from the board.

The committee said in the letter that the lack of appreciation was evident from personal attacks on committee members and the selectboard’s decision to not reappoint the longtime tree warden in April.

The conflict between the Tree Committee and the selectboard stems from an unauthorized tree cutting on private property in March and tree planting on private property, using town money, last year.

The board voted to not reappoint the tree warden, Tish Carr, as a result of the actions — a decision the Tree Committee called shocking in the letter. Carr had been tree warden since 1999.

The selectboard will review the resignation letter at its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the town office.

Richard Baker, chairman of the Tree Committee, said members will resign after a memorial tree dedication at the Belgrade Public Library, expected sometime this month.

Selectman Ernie Rice said it’s unfortunate the Tree Committee members don’t recognize that the selectboard appreciates their work, as well as their dedication, expertise and advice.

Rice said there had been heated discussions at selectboard meetings with the Tree Committee, and that he has a tendency to be vocal with his objections.

“I guess when you’re a volunteer, if I was sitting in their shoes, you don’t look forward to any confrontation,” he said.

Rice said he thinks the Tree Committee members have more of a problem with him than the rest of the board.

The selectboard denied a request from the committee in March to cut a hazardous tree on Location Road because it was on private property, but the tree was still cut down.

The contractor who cut the tree claimed responsibility for doing it without permission.

The town agreed to pay David Chavarie of Chavarie Tree & Landscaping half of the $400 bill to compensate him for the work of cutting down the portion of the tree hanging over the town’s right of way.

During discussions in March about the Location Road tree, the selectboard members learned that the Tree Committee had planted trees on private property in Belgrade Lakes last year.

The committee paid $800 for the trees out of its $2,000 budget, according to Town Manager Greg Gill.

The trees were planted to replace older trees that may have to be taken down during future construction work by the Maine Department of Transportation.

Baker said the committee was following the recommendations of the town’s streetscape plan, which outlines the importance of maintaining the tree canopy’s shade.

“We feel strongly what we did was not something that was illegal,” Baker said.

The selectboard, however, disagrees with the Tree Committee.

Gill said the town is consulting with its attorney, Lee Bragg of Bernstein Shur, to see what the town should do about the trees and if it’s responsible for them.

“What our selectboard is saying is we spent $800 we shouldn’t have spent,” Gill said, “and what do we have to do to fix it, and what is our liability for trees on private property.”

The selectboard is expecting to receive the legal opinion before tonight’s meeting.

The board will also be reviewing options at its meeting for lighting along Main Street, as part of the transportation department’s construction project.

Proposed reconstruction of the Belgrade Lakes village portion of Route 27 will widen the road, and the town has several options for additional work, including adding parking, raised sidewalks and different lighting, Gill said.

He said construction is expected to start in 2015.

The selectboard and the streetscape committee will meet sometime this month or next to decide what they’ll ask residents to approve for additional work at the annual Town Meeting next March, Gill said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]