Public Shade Tree Hearing Policy

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 87, Section 3 (Public Shade Tree Law) defines all trees within a public way or on the boundaries thereto as public shade trees. In accordance with M.G.L. 87, No person, except on order of the Tree Warden, shall remove or do major alterations as determined by the Tree Warden on a tree or shrub in the public right-of-way, park areas, and other town-owned lands, or cause such act to be done by others without a permit for such work from the Tree Warden. This includes all persons engaged in the business of cutting or removing trees or shrubs. Any person may apply for and obtain a permit, but all work must be accomplished or supervised by a certified arborist. If a resident requests that a healthy tree be removed, an application (PDF) shall be submitted to:

Tree Warden
c/o Town Hall
1 Main Street, Suite 13
Upton, MA 01568

The Tree Warden will make a determination within five business days after a Public Hearing has been held at the Town Hall.

The procedure for securing a permit to cut, trim or remove a Healthy Public Shade Tree is as follows:

  1. Resident / abutting property owner submits a Tree Hearing Request form and site plan(s) to the Tree Warden for review. The application shall be submitted with a $150 payment made to the Town of Upton.
  2. Tree Warden or designee inspects site to determine: tree size, tree species, tree condition, and whether any other trees will be impacted by trimming or removal. The Tree Warden shall determine the appropriate size, species and location of any replacement tree(s).
  3. Notice of the public hearing is given by the Tree Warden, identifying size, type and location of the shade tree or trees to be trimmed or removed. The notice shall be posted on the subject tree and in two or more public places in the town and upon the tree at least seven days before such hearing and published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town once in each of two successive weeks, the first publication to be not less than seven days before the hearing. All costs of the hearing shall be borne by the applicant.
  4. Contact property owner with the date of public hearing. The Tree Warden will make the final decision within five business days of public hearing.
  5. Public Hearing held by the Tree Warden or designee in attendance at Town Hall, 1 Main Street.
  6. Within two weeks following the Public Hearing, notice is sent to owner as to final decision.
  7. If decision is made to approve the removal permit, the cost for removal and replacement will be at the expense of the resident/abutting property owner.
  8. If decision is made to not approve the removal permit, a letter will be sent to resident denying the removal.