A delivery truck stops at the Hammond Lumber store on State Street in Ellsworth on March 17, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A Belgrade-based building supply company has been ordered to replant vegetation next to a wetland in Bar Harbor after it improperly cut down trees on the property.

Hammond Lumber, which operates 21 stores in Maine, recently acquired a 0.75-acre lot next to its Bar Harbor store in the village of Town Hill. It then cleared trees from that property and its adjoining 14-acre lot, where its store is located.

The smaller lot is in the town’s shoreland zone, however, because it is within 250 feet of a wetland, which lies directly across Gilbert Farm Road from the property. Because the lot is in a protected shoreland zone, the company was not supposed to cut down trees on it.

Angela Chamberlain, code enforcement officer for the town of Bar Harbor, said she has told the company it must replant native vegetation on the property to the same density as what was there prior to the cutting. She said the felled trees will remain on the property until the new vegetation is planted to minimize further damage.

“They are required to submit a revegetation plan to me,” Chamberlain said, adding that the plan has to be drafted by a licensed forestry professional.

The company cut the trees because it is planning to expand its local operations, the Mount Desert Islander weekly newspaper has reported. Mike Hammond, head of the company, told the newspaper that it did not mean to cut down trees in the protected zone.

Officials with Hammond Lumber did not respond to calls for comment.

Chamberlain said she doesn’t expect to fine Hammond Lumber, though the town could take the company to court and seek a financial penalty if it does not adequately replant and maintain the protected property.

“This takes years,” she said about restoring vegetation after trees have been improperly cut. “Once it is replanted they have to keep going back to make sure the plants survive.”

Chamberlain said the town does not require property owners to get a permit to remove trees on their land where tree cutting is allowed.

If Hammond applies to the town for a building permit to develop the cleared land that is not in the shoreland zone, then the town can require the company to revegetate other parts of the site in order to meet local development codes, she said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....