Putnam Draws Flak Over Chopped Trees
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Putnam Draws Flak Over Chopped Trees

Putnam Investments [see profile] is the subject of an article in The Boston Globe today regarding the trees that the mutual fund firm said were obscuring the view of the company sign along I-93 in Andover.

In his article, Globe reporter Todd Wallace writes that Putnam "hinted it might relocate 1,000 employees unless the state gave it permission to cut back the grove, which was on state property." He pointed to a letter sent by a Putnam manager to the state Department of Transportation in August.

The state allowed Putnam to remove some trees last fall, but the move did not come without criticism from at least one observer.

Andover resident Larry Bruce was quoted in the Globe article as saying that the episode "is a clear case of a multinational corporation using coercion tactics to bully the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Bruce said Putnam breached state law by failing to obtain an environmental permit.

However, Andover's conservation director, Robert Douglas, said fewer than 10 trees were cut. That number is not enough to loosen the soil or to constitute a breach of environmental laws.

Meanwhile, Joe Landolfi, assistant secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, told the Boston Globe that Putnam's mentioning the possibility of relocating had nothing to do with the state's decision to permit the company to cut down some trees.

For its part, Putnam, through a spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail to the Globe that the firm tried to work with the town and state "with respect to the very selective pruning of vegetation that might interfere with the visibility of our sign."

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