A Scenic Roads Bylaw or Ordinance can help protect trees and stonewalls from road construction projects that could damage or destroy them. When repair, maintenance, reconstruction, or paving work is proposed that would impact adjacent trees or stone walls, the planning board can hold a public hearing regarding the proposed changes.
To be considered, the trees and stonewalls must all be within the public right of way of the roadway. The bylaw or ordinance does not protect trees or stone walls that are solely on private property. While a scenic roads bylaw or ordinance is limited, it is still a valuable preservation tool, requiring a thoughtful consideration of alternatives.
Over 100 cities and towns in MA have a scenic roads bylaw or ordinance. The bylaw or ordinance typically lists those roads that have been designated.
A scenic roads bylaw is a general bylaw requiring a majority affirmative vote of town meeting or city council to establish the scenic roads bylaw and to designate each road as a scenic road. Recommendations to designate a scenic road come from the Planning Board, Conservation Commission or Historical Commission.
Adoption of a scenic roads bylaw or ordinance must be consistent with MGL Chapter 40, Section 15C-The Scenic Roads Act.
Protecting stonewalls through an ordinance or bylaw is not limited to a scenic roads bylaw or ordinance. Under Home Rule in Massachusetts, cities and towns could consider passage of an additional ordinance or bylaw that would provide additional protections for stonewalls or large caliber trees.