ROME — The Board of Selectmen is considering a corrective plan after several trees were cut down on land adjacent to Great Pond in a move that violated town rules and caused headaches for neighbors.

Andrew Marble, the code enforcement officer in Rome, said this week the landowner has owned the property on Jamaica Point Road for several years and hired a company to clear trees on the land. But more trees were cut than is allowed by the town’s shoreland zoning ordinance.

Selectmen on Monday reviewed a proposed revegetation plan, which outlines the replanting of trees on land owned by Talcott “Tal” Franklin of Portland. Selectmen did not take action on the plan Monday.

By cutting down the trees and thinning the canopy, other large trees on adjacent land became exposed and are now considered hazard trees because should they topple, due to high winds, for instance, they could land on homes, according to Marble.

As a result of the illegal cutting, Marble said he has received several requests from property owners asking for permission to remove the hazard trees.

“You have some camp owners that are worried,” he said. 


The shoreland ordinance requires that when trees are cut within 100 feet of water, or 75 feet of streams, openings in the canopy cannot be greater than 250 square feet, and that a “well-distributed stand of trees” need be preserved.

It also mandates that in any 10-year period, no more than 40% of trees 4 inches or greater in diameter may be cleared.

The trees at Franklin’s summer property were removed during the winter, but it was only this week selectmen examined the remediation plan for the land. These many months later, Marble said it remains unclear how many trees were removed.

A guide for homeowners on cutting trees in the shoreland area is available on the town’s website — —  and is a more user-friendly, digestible version of the shoreland zoning ordinance.

Franklin said this week he has been taking steps to address the problem.

“We were heartbroken when we learned of the results of the tree harvest on our property,” Franklin said. “We trusted the licensed contractor and were not present during the harvesting. The number of trees cut — and what was left behind — was not what we intended or expected.”


He added, “As we were billed $300 per tree removed and the harvesting proceeds went to the contractor, we had no economic interest in removing trees.”

Franklin said he immediately began working with the town to come up with a remedy that “protects the lake, restores the canopy and improves the aesthetic, in that order of priority.”

“We applied for an after-the-fact permit at the suggestion of the town, which was granted, but subsequently appealed, which stalled remediation,” Franklin said. “We hope that, if we obtain the approval of the select board, remediation can begin again soon.”

When contacted last week, a manager for the company that is believed to have removed the trees said he was unable to talk and would contact a Morning Sentinel reporter later, but that call never came.

In a subsequent telephone call to the company, the person who answered said the business was not involved in removing trees from the Great Pond property.

Marble credited Franklin with being responsive to the town’s orders.


“He seems to be proactive about meeting with the select board and hiring professionals,” Marble said. “So far, he has been excellent.” 

Six people who are neighbors of Franklin released a statement reading: “As abutting property owners of the Franklins, we wish to express our support for their comprehensive efforts in taking timely remedial steps to revegetate the forested areas of their land that were the subject of tree harvesting this past winter. The Franklins are kind and considerate neighbors.”

Laura Rose Day, president and CEO of the 7 Lakes Alliance, a conservation group that works to protect the land and water in the Belgrade Lakes region, released a statement that did not address the removal of the trees, but rather explained the importance of having many trees along shorelines.

“Trees help buffer shorelines to keep dirt, and the algae-feeding phosphorus pollution it carries, out of lakes and streams,” she said. “Trees protect shorelines from wave and ice action, help stop stormwater runoff and hold soil in place. … Healthy buffers mean healthy water quality.”

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