Letters To The Editor: Jan. 18, 2024

by Cape Cod Chronicle Readers

Critical Of Airport Tree Removal


The Chatham Airport is seeking to remove large numbers of trees on airport property. This is bad enough; see Kristin Andres’s article in last week’s Chronicle. But if approved it would allow implementation of the many adverse proposals on record in the airport management plan (AMPU), the airport layout plan and the five-year plan.

The airport’s demand for tree removal is based on intrusion into the inordinately low virtual approach surfaces, which aircraft must fly above. For example, the roof of Ocean State Job Lot is at the height of one approach surface, which shows just how low aircraft can fly over the West Chatham neighborhood. All the trees around the store are planned for removal as are approximately 15 acres of trees along the runway.

The airport commission is being disingenuous, since removing trees under more than the existing approach surface for visual landings would allow the airport to proceed with its ill-considered proposals, the first of which would be a new larger approach surface to allow instrument landings in poor visibility, primarily for the benefit of the larger noisy charter turboprop aircraft.

There are already 20 homes, etc. in the eight-acre zones, which the FAA is adamant should be devoid of people and structures. These zones identify danger to people and restrict planning in the West Chatham neighborhood. However, landings in poor visibility could increase these zones to 70 acres, which recognizes the increased danger to residents in over 100 homes and businesses at both ends of the runway.

There are over 250 turboprop landings a year, but meeting required FAA safety standards for them is impossible. Hyannis Airport is only 15 miles away and is much safer. Displacing the runway thresholds is described in the AMPU as an alternative. This would avoid tree removal, and eliminate turboprops and the safety issues for people living and working in West Chatham.

The airport’s proposals with their adverse environmental, safety and social consequences should be reviewed in a community meeting or submitted to the Cape Cod Commission. The issue of tree removal in the protected wetland and vernal pool areas is on the agenda at the next conservation commission Meeting on Jan. 24 at 1p.m.

Michael Tompsett


Border Policy An Insurrection?


In my opinion, the Democrat open-border policy is a major insurrection causing catastrophic harm to the taxpayers and the lower-paid working class in America. Their main objective is to change the voting rolls in favor of the Democrats. The Jan. 6 committee report was an absolute theatrical show with phony tears and all.

The Democrat idea of an insurrection is seeing policemen waving people into open doors at the Capital and older people taking selfies. Burning down US cities and illegals dashing through our borders Democrats consider compassionate.

God, please protect Donald Trump or there will no longer be a free America as we know it.



Questions Airport Tree Removal


Last fall the airport commission identified 21 private properties with trees considered to be hazards under the town's airport approach bylaw. It ordered owners to either remove the trees or agree to easement takings. There is a possibility that the commission exceeded its lawful authority. State law may protect some or all of those trees from removal.

Last May Town Meeting amended its airport approach bylaw, authorizing the airport commission to identify trees on private property that constitute a hazard to the airport approaches and to spend funds to remove the hazards. Bylaw revisions must be approved by the Attorney General for consistency with state law. The Attorney General approved the amendment in November, but with a warning that the town must carefully apply it so as to not violate the protections given to trees in the applicable statutes, specifically General Law Chapter 90 Section 40B.

Section 40B allows any tree not conforming to the town bylaw when amended to remain in place and continue to grow. The bylaw was amended on May 6, 2023. Therefore, the airport commission cannot order any of those trees lowered or removed.

If public safety still requires the removal or lowering of those non-conforming trees on private property, the town may instead take by eminent domain or acquire by purchase, by air right, or other interest in land, the land on which the nonconforming structure or tree is located. But that is a far more complicated, and unpopular, process. Eminent domain takings require compensation and must be initiated by the town. The airport commission has no such authority under state law.

Property owners who want to keep their trees may wish to seek legal counsel to ensure the preservation of their rights as guaranteed by state law.

David Bixby

West Chatham

Editor’s note: The original bylaw that is referred to above was adopted in the 1950s, therefore, according to town counsel, any grandfathering dates from that time. Further, the bylaw amendment approved in May authorized the airport commission to use its own staff/agents identify and remove those trees and vegetation which constitute a hazard under the bylaw and to spend town funds for that purpose, according to town counsel.

Smoke Detectors Save Lives


Early Wednesday morning we were woken up by our fire alarm. We smelled smoke, called 911, and left the house. The Chatham Fire Department was there in minutes, and it is safe to say that our house would be gone if they were not the amazing professionals they are. We have since been reminded repeatedly how lucky we are. The help and support from neighbors, friends, and the community at large have left us with gratitude and hope. Smoke detectors save lives; check your batteries. Communities like ours lift spirits. Thanks for looking out for us.

Rachel and Matthew Barnes