Tree Trimming Concerns In New Haven

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in an interview Tuesday that he supports a balanced approach to utility tree trimming, an issue that has packed community meetings as regulators wrap up their review of Connecticut Light & Power’s and United Illuminating’s plans for managing roadside forests in the state.

“I think that we let things get out of control, and part of the problem of letting things get out of control is it is harder to trim trees after 20 year rather than shaping them” over time, Malloy said.

“We have to find a right balance of reliability and community beauty,” he said. “It may mean we have to step up our trimming program. It’s got to be a balancing act.”

Residents throughout the state are questioning the logic of the utilities’ new aggressive tree trimming policies developed after major storms and falling branches caused hundreds of thousands of outages throughout the state, many lasting almost a week.

Empowered by a recent state law, the policies advocate trimming or removal of trees or branches within 8 feet of utility poles or wires, from the ground to the sky. Opponents say the plans lack discrimination between healthy trees and dangerous ones. The two major electric distribution utilities have said the measures are necessary to lower the likelihood of future mass outages.

To Malloy, former mayor of Stamford, an important aspect is having the right trees in the right place.

“Some popular trees that were used in communities like Norway maples, they’re not good trees. They have a relatively short life span,” he said. “I have streets in Stamford that had a full canopy across a large boulevard that are basically gone 10 years later. It’s not because the electric company took them down, it because their life span ended.”

By Brian Dowling, Hartford Courant.

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