• Developer removes 45 trees from historic Plymouth park without permission

    By: Julie Leonardi , Mike Saccone

    Updated:

    PLYMOUTH, Mass. - Town leaders in Plymouth believe a developer wiped dozens of trees out from a historical park in order to create better views for an up-and-coming rental property, but the developer said he had secured written permission to do so.

    "This was brazen," Board of Selectman member John Mahoney told Boston 25 News. "Kind of like a robbery during the day, except the weapon of choice was chainsaws."

    Mahoney said he thought residents were mistaken when he got the call on Feb.11 telling him dozens of trees were being cut down in Burton Park. By the time he arrived, the trees had already been removed. 

    "This is town-owned property," Mahoney said. "This was the first park in the history of Plymouth, Massachusetts; gifted and created back in the 1890s."

    The development company MEGRYCO, Inc. recently purchased the Mt. Pleasant School property across the street and is creating apartments. Rick Vayo, the company's president, said the area on Whiting Street where the trees were removed was completely inaccessible, overgrown and riddled with trash and debris.

    "It is worth noting that Burton Park is a small piece of land originally donated and intended to be a park but has been neglected for decades," Vayo said.

    Town leaders believe Vayo's decision to chop down the trees was intended to increase property value by adding a clearer ocean view.

    Mahoney said 45 trees, between six and 27-inches wide, were cut down and Vayo had no rights to the land the trees were on.

    Vayo said he believed the trees were on private property.

    "Unfortunately due to a miscommunication with a town employee the property lines were not identified correctly," Vayo said.

    But in an email Vayo sent to the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday, obtained by Boston 25 News, he stated, "MEGRYCO, Inc. has and always will take full responsibility for its actions."

    I then specially asked a town employee about the land and was told "the town owns a strip of land approximately 10-15' along the road.' Now it's worth pointing out that it was then clearly my responsibility to verify that information and I in no way blame or plan to throw that person under the bus. With that information I then approached the abutter to the east and obtained written permission o remove trees and do general clean-up at the rear of his property. A property line that I believed traversed the slope to within 15' of Whiting Street. That was clearly not the case. Again, the abutter offered no indication of where the line was and that was my responsibility to verify.

    Vayo took issue with saying the trees were "torn down." He stated his company, "hired a certified arborist to remove several invasive and dead/dying trees as part of an effort to improve the neighborhood."

    Mahoney said the town's constitutional rights were violated.

    "This individual unilaterally went or hired a tree company to go on town-owned property and eliminated 45 trees because were obstructing his view from the building across the street," Mahoney said.

    Vayo didn't show up to a town meeting Wednesday night, but he told Boston 25 News when the error was pointed out he immediately communicated with the town to rectify the situation.

    "Discussions are ongoing with town management and we plan to work to a positive outcome for the neighborhood and the greater Plymouth community," Vayo said. "Although the local media tried to portray this as a rogue developer, the majority of the residents attending the meeting attested to MEGRYCO’s impeccable reputation, devotion to Plymouth and a desire to see the park restored to its original luster from the 1950’s."

    Town leaders will continue meeting every Tuesday to figure out the best way to hold Vayo accountable for his actions.

    Full statement from Rick Vayo, President of MEGRYCO, Inc.:

    "The trees were not “torn down”. MEGRYCO, Inc hired a certified arborist to remove several invasive and dead/dying trees as part of an effort to improve the neighborhood. This effort was believed to be on private property and we secured written permission to do so. Unfortunately due to a miscommunication with a town employee the property lines were not identified correctly.

    When the error was pointed out we immediately communicated with the town to rectify the situation. Discussions are ongoing with town management and we plan to work to a positive outcome for the neighborhood and the greater Plymouth community.

    It is worth noting that Burton Park is a small piece of land originally donated and intended to be a park but has been neglected for decades. The area was completely inaccessible, overgrown and riddled with trash and debris. Although the local media tried to portrait this as a rogue developer, the majority of the residents attending the meeting attested to MEGRYCO’s impeccable reputation, devotion to Plymouth and a desire to see the park restored to its original luster from the 1950’s."

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