Scenic Roads and Shade Trees

The following streets have been accepted by Town Meeting as Scenic Roads in accordance with the Scenic Road Act, MGL Ch. 40, Sec. 15C.


Causeway Street - 1974

Foundry Street - 1974

Hartford Street - 2004

Noon Hill Street - 1974

North Street (Harding Street to the Dover line) - 2004

Orchard Street - 1980

Philip Street - 2004

Pine Street (Cedar Lane to the Dover line) - 1980

School Street - 2004

Wight Street - 1975

Two Massachusetts laws – MGL Ch. 87 (Shade Tree Act) and MGL Ch. 40, Sec. 15C (Scenic Roads Act) – create overlapping responsibilities for the Tree Warden and the Planning Board in Medfield. The Shade Tree Act gives the Tree Warden jurisdiction over the planting or removal of any public shade trees in a public way or, in some circumstances, on public property. In response to a proposal to remove public shade trees, the Tree Warden schedules a public hearing to solicit public input. Following the public hearing, the Warden decides whether or not the trees can be removed and, if so, whether conditions will be attached to that removal (planting new trees, for instance).

The Scenic Roads Act, on the other hand, gives Planning Boards jurisdiction over the removal of any public shade trees or existing stone walls in a public way designated as a Scenic Road. The purpose of the Act is to protect the character of historic local roads by preventing the removal of key features-significant public shade trees and historic stone walls. To accomplish this, the Act requires that any proposal to remove public shade trees or stone walls must undergo a Planning Board public hearing to solicit public input, that the Board must then decide whether or not to allow the removal of the features, and, if so, to determine whether any conditions should be attached if removals are allowed.

Whenever there is a proposal to remove public shade trees on a Scenic Road, these two responsibilities overlap, and state law requires that a joint Planning Board/Tree Warden public hearing be held. The Planning Board and the Tree Warden hear public input and then try to reach agreement on how to respond to the request. The public hearing process is the same as with any other permit application, and in some cases, the Tree Warden will be present to also provide information, receive public testimony, and be involved in the deliberations prior to reaching a decision. If a mutually-agreeable decision can be reached, then the matter is concluded.

What is a shade tree?

Any tree within a public way is defined as public trees. 

Who’s responsible for cutting, maintaining and care of public shade trees? 

The tree Warden or designee. 

Can I plant, cut, or remove a shade tree on a public road?

No, not without the permission of the Tree Warden as per M.G.L. Chapter 87 Section 3.  

When is a Public Hearing required?

Prior to cutting, trimming, or removing said tree. 

Who holds a Public Hearing? 

Prior to cutting or removing a shade tree a public hearing must be held by the Tree Warden.

Does the Planning Board hold a public hearing?

Only when the removal of such trees are along a scenic road as provided in Chapter 40, Section 15-C.