Letter to the Editor:
The Greenwich Tree Conservancy often hears from residents who are given notice from Eversource requesting a tree on their property or abutting property be removed or significantly cut back. The resident then asks us what they can do to protect the tree which shades their property and adds to its esthetic, economic and health value. When trees are on private property, residents have the right to tell Eversource what is
acceptable to them.
The best idea is to say you want to be there when they do the work. Eversource has a guideline to clear ground to sky and 8 feet from the lines (UPZ) as they do in many towns, this is not Greenwich’s policy.
Nor can Eversource automatically take the tree down if it is not a public safety issue. They often say it’s a safety issue but they are speaking of safety to their lines, not safety to the public. They do have the right to prune the tree if it is currently interfering with the power lines or will be imminently.
Eversource’s contracted tree service is Lewis Tree Service they should prune in a careful way which they will do if you are present when the work is being done.
If a tree abutting your property is in the Town right-of-way, Eversource must obtain a
permit from the Town Tree Warden for pruning or removal by filing a written application and must give 15 days notice to an abutting property owner prior to pruning or removal in the UPZ (Utility Protection Zone) and within the public right-of-way,
Secondly, the Town Tree Warden must issue a decision 10 days from receiving an abutting property owner objection or request for modification, provided a requested consultation has taken place. The property owner or Eversource may appeal the Town
Tree Warden decision to PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority).
The Tree Conservancy has published a Tree Rights for Property Owners brochure as well as a Public Utilities brochure that are available at Town Hall or can be viewed at our website www.greenwichtreeconservancy.org.
Don’t feel powerless when confronted with Eversource!
Greenwich Tree Conservancy
Greenwich is privileged to have exempted itself from the general regulations governing maintenance of power lines in town, and you’ll get no argument from me that private property rights shouldn’t protect everyone from chainsaw-toting goons descending from central authority trucks with tree-ravishing on their lustful minds; besides, only the little people lack generators, so what’s the actual cost of demanding by-appointment hair salon treatment for our trees? Negligible — as inconsequential as refusing permission to build new substations to handle increased electrical demand.
So all that’s great, but over the past decades, every time we’ve been hit with a major power-outage, our citizens scream in outrage, and the power company (CL&P, back in the day) explains that Greenwich regulations forbids it from properly pruning trees to the extent that would protect the wires. it would be nice if, after the next storm knocks out power in town for five days or so, our arboreal estheticians bit their tongues, fired up their generators, and refrained from hysterically whining about the failure of Eversource to protect our infrastructure. A trade-off implies an exchange of one benefit for another: we’ve made that exchange, and should accept the consequences when they arrive.
Or reconsider our bargain. Unless we do, then, please, shut up.