In July, I helped organize a neighborhood forum co-sponsored by the Greenfield Hill Village Improvement Society and RTM members from Districts 2 and 3, to make sure local residents were informed about United Illuminating's tree-trimming plan.

For residents who could not attend the forum, here is the latest on the proposed UI plan:

It's important that trees are regularly pruned and that diseased, damaged or at-risk trees are removed for public safety and/or to protect our power supply. Properly pruning trees can help reduce the number of power outages caused by branches or trees falling on power lines.

UI is set to begin an eight-year tree-pruning and removal program in Fairfield, authorized under Public Act 14-151. The program will ultimately be townwide with the initial phase largely in the Greenfield Hill area.

UI intends to prune branches or remove trees that are within 8 to 10 feet above, below or on either side of power lines (this means 16- to 20-foot-wide clearance known as the "Utility Protection Zone"). The plan includes trees on both private and public property. Stump grinding and replanting are not part of the program.

What You Should Know:

1. UI will send letters to homeowners in areas where they intend to start work. Its representatives will go door to door to explain the program. If a homeowner is not available, UI will leave information, including a consent form at the door.

2. Homeowners must complete and return the consent form advising that they agree, object or seek a modification to the planned tree work. If the homeowner objects, a copy of the form must be sent to the Fairfield tree warden and/or state transportation commissioner (if the tree is located in a state right-of-way), and a decision will be made within 15 days. Either party may appeal the decision.

3. Fairfield's tree warden, Ken Placko, is committed to ensuring UI adheres to our local ordinances, which require that a permit be requested for each tree to be pruned or removed. Ken also has said that, despite UI's proposed "Utility Protection Zone," trees that are healthy and not at risk should not be removed.

I am sharing this information to help build awareness and understanding about the full extent of the plan that will be underway soon. Additional information is also available through the following resources:

Town of Fairfield website: www.fairfieldct.org):

United Illuminating's Street Schedule for Fairfield.

Town of Fairfield Tree Warden Ken Placko: 203-256-3177

Town of Fairfield Forestry Committee.

United Illuminating website: www.uinet.com (See "Protecting Your Service").

Email questions to trees@UI.net.

Any Fairfield residents who have questions on the plan also may contact me at ldevlinrtm@gmail.com.

Laura Devlin

RTM member, District 3

Fairfield