With the deadline for court appeal approaching, the removal of 95 tagged trees along a portion of Owens Brook Boulevard is expected to move forward in the coming weeks.
After reviewing the results of a public hearing, resident correspondence, and further site analysis Town Tree Warden Tom Roy decided to preserve 5 trees and supported removal of the others.
On March 8, a notice was posted on several of the 100 tagged trees along the boulevard between Musket Trail and Somerset Lane that said the trees would "be removed after 5 days."
Residents wishing to protest the decision were instructed to contact Roy.
After posting the announcement, Roy immediately received 10 letters and emails from residents about the project. Half of the correspondence was in favor of the plan and the other half opposed. The town held a public hearing on March 22 with 10 residents in attendance to discuss the decision to remove the trees.
The trees selected for removal by CL&P contractors were tagged and an explanation for each was provided. The town also hired an arborist to inspect the trees before the public hearing. After the hearing, Roy decided to take another look.
“I spent a couple of hours out there inspecting each tree,” Roy said. “The point is we’re not just clear-cutting trees.”
The decision on the public hearing was posted on the town’s website on March 27 and a letter was sent to the residents the same day.
"In reviewing all 100 trees, I took great care to reflect on the need to balance the safety and necessity of the utility lines in the area with the community's desire to have rural tree-lined streets," Roy said in the letter.
5 trees were chosen by Roy to remain: a 14-inch Red Maple, an 18-inch Red Maple, two 8-inch Red Maples, and an 8-inch Elm.
Connecticut Light and Power routinely trims trees in the spring and summer months to reduce the risk of future power outages with above-ground lines. The company provides the town with a list of streets scheduled for trimming projects which can be found on the town’s website.
This year the company announced the launch of the Expanded Tree Work program which includes increasing routine trimming mileage from 3,200 to 4,800 miles. The program also includes 500 miles of “Enhanced Tree Trimming.”
The enhanced program will take a more aggressive approach to trimming and include the removal of “diseased, insect infested, and structurally weak trees, which pose a threat to fall into lines," according to the announcement.
Typically, Roy said, the company offers to remove trees at risk of falling on power lines at no cost to the homeowner.
“You could easily be in the $4,000 range for a really mature tree,” Roy said. “In the past, residents have been very happy with that."
The trees slated for removal on Owens Brook Boulevard are not on private property and subject to a different process entirely.
"It gets interesting when it’s in the town right of way,” Roy said.
All of the 100 trees selected by CL&P contractors are within the town right of way and require that public notice be given and residents have the opportunity to provide input and even file an appeal with the Connecticut Superior Court.
Roy said the town has gone above and beyond what it is required to do in this situation and feels the removal of the other 95 trees is reasonable and would promote new growth in the wooded area. “There’s too many trees in there to grow in good health,” Roy said.
With the deadline for appeal approaching, Roy expects to see the project move forward.
“I’d be surprised if it went that way,” Roy said.
The work is expected to begin soon after the filing period ends on April 6.