If a tree falls in the forest, it may not make a sound, but several trees that fell on Graniteville Road definitely made a sound at town hall recently.
During a Conservation Commission meeting late last month, David Li of 67 Graniteville Rd. told the board and Westford conservation agent Bill Turner that they would no longer be allowed on his property following a determination requiring him to plant new trees.
The requirement followed earlier demands by the board to plant new red maple trees, replacing red maple trees Li illegally cut down last fall within protected wetlands areas on his property.
Several days before the meeting, members of the Conservation Commission went to Li’s home and found that while Li had planted over a hundred new trees, none of them were the red maples that the Conservation Commission recommended due to the soil in the area.
Their investigation found that almost all of the trees planted in that area were either dead or dying, although three newly planted fruit trees elsewhere in the yard were still alive.
A new requirement was made by the board for Li to plant several red maples and white pines in the area as well as post markers along the boundary of the wetlands area indicating that it is a wetlands area and removing several lights off his property.
Li told the board that he planted over a hundred new trees due to his fears that some may in fact die, and that some of them were red maples, but Conservation Commission chairman Eric Fahle did not believe Li’s testimony, stating that the inspection was due in part to Li’s compliance and the decision did not require his input.
At that, Li snapped.
“I have the right to talk about this thing, that’s why I’m here,” said Li. “(If) I have no right, then why am I here?”
Li also claimed that town officials came to his home unannounced, a claim several members of the board refuted.
His announcement that the members of the board would no longer be allowed on his property was construed as a possible threat by Conservation Commission member Marilyn Frank, who also disagreed with Li’s assessment that he could do whatever he wanted with his property.
“In Westford there are rules and laws, and we try to be as fair as possible to make sure everyone obeys them,” said Frank. “Unfortunately, you can’t do whatever you want.”
Li has until July 25 to fulfill the Conservation Commission’s new requirement or face additional fines.