Tree-trimming pilot program starts Monday in Fairfield
Published 8:04 am, Sunday, March 29, 2015
A tree-management program -- cutting down or trimming trees believed to pose a threat to power lines -- is set to be tested in Fairfield starting Monday.
The pilot program, planned in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, which caused widespread and long-term power outages locally as fallen tree limbs pulled down transmission lines, is being carried out by United Illuminating in designated neighborhoods. It is expected to take a several months to complete.
UI will begin with one crew at the corner of Congress and Burr streets and continue north on Burr Street to Aran Hill Road. UI later will deploy another crew in the Mill Plain area.
As part of the state-mandated Enhanced Tree Trimming program implemented in Fairfield and other Connecticut towns, a pilot program has been launched in sections of Greenfield Hill and Mill Plain.
Sites for the pilot program were selected from UI's list of areas with a history of the most power outages caused by trees, including areas that have local emergency evacuation sites and medical facilities, officials said.
The program in Greenfield Hill is concentrated on Congress Street east of Burr Street to Hillside Road, and on Burr Street from Congress going north to Aran Hill Road. In the Mill Plain area, the pilot is planned for Unquowa Road from the downtown train station parking lot to Mill Hollow Park, and on Mill Plain Road from Interstate 95 to Glover Street.
The tree-trimming program was approved by the state Public Utility Regulatory Authority in response to the increased frequency and severity of storms -- which triggered power outages -- over the past few years, officials said.
The goal is to establish a so-called "Utility Protection Zone" -- an area extending horizontally 8 feet to the side of electrical conductors from the ground to the sky.
Officials said the following are points the public should know:
- UI has selected and marked trees for removal on both private and public properties with a red tag in the pilot areas. The utility has contacted property owners in the affected areas to ensure they are aware and approve of these trees for removal.
- Planners for UI's tree contractor, Lewis Tree, have gone door-to-door requesting each property owner's consent for all tree pruning or tree removal work.
- The tree warden has the authority to approve or deny UI's request for tree pruning or removal on public property, such as the town's right-of-way and along the roadside. UI has applied for a permit from the tree warden, as required by state law, for all trees within the town's right-of-way.
- Ken Placko, the town's former tree warden, inspected each tree within the town's right-of-way that UI has requested for removal. Jeffrey Minder, the interim tree warden, will carry out future inspections.
- Where the tree warden has agreed to removal, a "Notice for Removal" has been issued and posted -- white 8.5-by-11-inch sheets of paper entitled "Posted" -- on each tree.
- The notice is posted for a minimum of 10 business days to allow anyone who lives in Fairfield to ask questions and/or voice concerns. To do so, contact interim Tree Warden Jeffrey Minder at email@example.com or 203-256-3177. If uncontested, permits will be issued and tree removal will begin.
- If a tree has a "Notice of Removal" on it, any member of the public, even those who don't live on the street or live outside Fairfield, can contest the removal because these are public trees.
- Trees on private property do not fall under the jurisdiction of the tree warden and will not get his inspections or postings. However, if a tree on private property overhangs the public right-of-way, the tree warden may rule only on the portion of the tree within the public right-of way.
- Homeowners wishing to contest the removal of trees on their own property may voice concerns directly to the Lewis Tree Work planner that requested consent or by contacting UI at Trees@UINet.com or 800-722-5584. In most cases, UI has agreed with the property owner.
- Once the pilot areas are completed, town officials will review the sites and, upon approval, the pruning program throughout the town will begin.
- UI will complete the full tree-trimming program, which will include all of the 270 miles of roads in Fairfield, over an eight-year period.
For more information about the tree-management program, check www.uinet.com/trees.
For questions or concerns, contact interim Tree Warden Jeffrey Minder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-256-3177.