Duties & Responsibilities
The Tree Warden is appointed by the Board of Selectmen, per Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 41, Section 106. The Tree Warden's responsibilities are outlines in Massachusetts General Laws, but include:
Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 87, Section 2
Section 2. The tree warden of a town may appoint and remove deputy tree wardens. He and they shall receive such compensation as the town determines or, in default thereof, as the selectmen allow. He shall have the care and control of all public shade trees, shrubs and growths in the town, except those within a state highway, and those in public parks or open places under the jurisdiction of the park commissioners, and shall have care and control of the latter, if so requested in writing by the park commissioners, and shall enforce all the provisions of law for the preservation of such trees, shrubs and growths. He shall expend all money appropriated for the setting out and maintenance of such trees, shrubs and growths, and no tree shall be planted within a public way without the approval of the tree warden, and in towns until a location
therefor has been obtained from the selectmen or road commissioners. He may make regulations for the care and preservation of public shade trees and establish fines and forfeitures of not more than twenty dollars in any one case for violation thereof; which, when posted in one or more public places, and, in towns, when approved by the selectmen, shall have the effect of town by-laws.
Can I cut branches from a tree on someone else's property which hangs over my property?
The short answer is yes (see Macero v. Busconi (12 Mass L. Rep 521 (2000)) and Michalson v. Nutting (275 Mass 233-34 (1931)). It is strongly recommended that you work with your neighbor in order to resolve this issue. If you cannot resolve the matter, consult with your attorney to determine your full rights and responsibilities in the matter before taking any action. (April 27, 2005)
Attorney Richard D. Vetstein wrote a blog entry (July 5, 2012) about this subject and related matters.