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Middleborough Residents Battle NStar Over Clear-Cutting

By Lauren Leamanczyk, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Lauren Leamanczyk Lauren Leamanczyk
Lauren Leamanczyk is an I-Team Correspondent for WBZ-TV News and is...
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MIDDLEBOROUGH (CBS) – Middleborough residents are battling NStar over the clear-cutting of trees on their property.

Darlene Parsons says she felt violated when she heard the construction noise and walked to the back of her property to see 70 foot pine trees being cut down.

“It’s an invasion of your property, where do they stop?” she asked.

She owns and pays taxes on the wooded area behind her home, but the land is also within NStar’s 300 foot easement. Dozens of trees will be wiped out, leaving only a few.

“I’ve lived here 28 years, the easement has always been taken care of. They’ve never come this far. This is so aggressive,” she said.

NStar says this is a reclamation project to clear the entire easement around power transmission lines. The clear cutting will run for several miles between Carver and Bridgewater, but a bulk of the work is in Middleborough.

The trucks have been working for a week. In some yards, there are only stumps left. Huge piles of logs are being cut apart and transported.

NStar Spokesperson Priscilla Ress says the work is necessary and even more urgent because of the focus on preventing tree related power outages.

“This is a critical reliability issue. We’re talking about transmission lines which make up the backbone of the transmission system delivering power to hundreds of thousands of people,” she said.

Homeowners though have banded together against the clearing work. They have found allies among the conservation commission and some selectmen who are worried about the environmental impact. The area to be cut down includes wetlands that are home to more than 40 Eastern Box Turtles, a protected species.

Ress says NStar has had special training and made accommodations to protect the turtles.

Bobby Yunits wonders why his horse farm can’t get the same consideration.

The scenic farm is also slated for tree cutting, a process he says would harm his business and cost him money.

Yunits had the land surveyed when he purchased it nearly 20 years ago. There is a 10 foot difference between his survey and where NStar claims their easement begins.

In that 10 feet, he has several trees, an expensive landscape and a $400,000 barn.

“I know that NStar is doing their job, but they’re taking it too far,” he said. “We’ve been treated terribly.”

Yunits got a cease and desist order that stops cutting on his land for now and NStar has agreed to leave his property alone while the legal issues are sorted out.

The rest of the fight could be decided in court.

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