LACONIA — It appears the large oak tree between Dunkin' Donuts and Dairy Queen on Union Avenue may be at the end of its life.
The majestic tree poses a safety hazard, according to Cafua Management Inc., the firm that constructed the commercial building between those businesses.
The firm is seeking approval from the Planning Board to remove the tree on the northeast corner of the lot.
When the Planning Board approved the site plan for the project it stipulated that "the large oak tree near the northeast corner of the property is a monumental shade tree, and as such shall be protected and maintain(ed) during and after construction."
In September, Gregg Nolin of Cafua Management first inquired about taking down the tree,. At the time, Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that since preserving the tree was a condition of the Planning Board's approval of the project, a request to remove it would be referred to the board for its approval.
The tree is rooted in the sidewalk, within 6 feet of the curb cut, defining the entrance and exit to the property, which is close to the northeast corner of the lot. Nolin expressed concern that the trunk of the tree, which is 14 feet around, obscures the view of a motorist leaving the site of southbound lane of traffic on Union Avenue. At the same time, the tree is approximately 10 yards south of a second curb cut for vehicles leaving Dairy Queen next door.
In addition, Scott McPhie, conservation technician in the Planning Department, said that when the site plan was reviewed, concern was expressed about the condition of the tree. The roots of the tree, which have been paved over, grow amid sewer, drainage and gas lines. McPhie said excavation and backfilling may have damaged the root system enough to impair the health and shorten the life of the tree, which could only be determined by a professional arborist. Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, has said the health of the tree has been impaired and its life span shortened.
Originally Cafua Management sought to develop the entire lot by building the Dunkin' Donuts and an adjoining strip mall, but shelved its plan in the face of popular opposition to the demolition of the Hathaway House. Last year, when efforts to preserve the Hathaway House were exhausted, the company proceeded to raze it and construct the commercial building on the site.
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