October 21, 2014

Essex Tree Warden Rules on Mares Hill Road Tree Removal

Mares 2In an effort to promote greater collaboration within the community, Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden, called a public hearing on March 19, 2014 in accordance with Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes and in response to public complaints about the planned removal/pruning of approximately 40 trees on Town owned land adjacent to Mares Hill Road, Ivoryton Ct., between #5 and #72 address locations. CL&P requested the removal of these trees to satisfy the trimming/removal specifications they follow on the road.

The hearing gave members of the public a chance to voice their concerns and CL&P a chance to provide an understanding of the specifications that are used for “Enhanced Tree Trimming (“ETT”). ETT is a severe form of trimming calling for an eight foot clearance zone on either side of the conductors and ground to sky.

Susan Stotts, the CL&P representative, presented slides of the various trees under consideration, indicating those she thought should be removed and those that could remain.

Augie Pampel reported at the hearing that he was authorized to make a decision about the trees within three days following the hearing, considering the public’s input and after a walk-through of the trees with Susan Stotts. His decision would be based on the health of the trees including diseases as well as structural issues. He initially estimated that 20-25 of the trees might stay but each tree would need to be examined to make the final determination. He noted that the Town owns 20 feet on both sides of the road and that all the trees designated for removal are on Town property.

People raised concerns about the ground to sky regulation which was considered extreme and worried that the result would be the same as on route 153. Also some expressed concern about the impact of tree removal on the soil environment, water runoff and possible flooding if the soil becomes less absorbent. Other questions about a plan to plant new trees and the payment of the tree removal were raised.

Augie noted that the Town tries to replace as much as is possible and that CL&P pays for the tree work, leaving the wood for people to collect. The contractor for CL&P will follow CL&P specifications. Nonetheless, Augie and Susan Stotts will consider the residents’ wishes to maintain the country road appearance when examining the trees. Augie clarified that the tree work done on Melody Lane and Hickory Lane was done on private property with the consent of the property owners.

Augie informed the public that there are no other Essex streets being considered for tree removal at this time. CL&P looks at streets with 40 or more customers and considers liability issues.

The general consensus at the hearing was that as many trees as possible should be preserved to maintain the country road affect while keeping in mind the necessity to avoid power loss and maintain access due to fallen trees.

Since the hearing, Augie Pampel, as Tree Warden examined the trees and posted the final decision on March 21, 2014, regarding the tree removal on Mares Hill Road. Based on a review of all trees posted for removal, 17 will stay. The remaining trees will be removed because “they either have defects sufficient to warrant removal, or the CL&P ETT specification requires that they be removed.” Augie will issue a removal permit to the CL&P contractor with this decision detail.

Mares 5

Though this is the final decision of the Essex Tree Warden, it should be noted that Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes states ‘…the Tree Warden shall render his decision granting or denying the application, and the party aggrieved by such a decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the superior court or the judicial district within which such town or borough is located.’”

The Essex residents, and especially those on Mares Hills Road will still enjoy a full canopy of trees despite the loss of 23 trees. That 17 were saved is a testament to the efforts of citizens, CL&P and the Tree Warden to work together to come to the best resolution.

If anyone has further concerns or questions about this decision or wishes to contact Augie Pampel about other concerns related to town trees (trees not on state roads), please contact him at augiepampel@att.net. When possible, Augie will provide advance notice to the public through the media of future CL&P requests for tree trimming and removal.