Stonington tree warden hesitant to approve CL&P trimming; meeting set Wednesday

Stonington - Connecticut Light & Power wants to cut down or significantly trim many of the trees along scenic Moss and Courtland streets in Pawcatuck to prevent residents from losing power during a hurricane, but so far the town has resisted the effort.

The company has said that unless the trees are trimmed or taken down, the town will be responsible should future storms damage electrical equipment and power is knocked out.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m. the Board of Selectmen will host a meeting with CL&P officials and town Tree Warden Paul Rohacik to discuss the plan.

Town Public Works Director Joe Bragaw said that because of storms such as Irene and Sandy that cause large-scale power outages, CL&P has set aside additional money for subcontractors to trim or remove trees that threaten power lines.

One area that CL&P wants to conduct its enhanced tree trimming is along Moss Street, where First Selectman Ed Haberek lives, and certain sections of nearby Courtland Street.

The plan calls for cutting all branches within 8 feet on either side of the power lines from the ground to above the trees. In a memo to selectmen, Bragaw said that on both streets there are trees right underneath the wires that would have to be removed.

To cut down or trim trees, CL&P needs the permission of Rohacik, and so far he has been reluctant to give permission because he feels there is nothing wrong with the trees, according to Bragaw. State law gives tree wardens jurisdiction over the cutting and removal of trees.

Bragaw said CL&P has held off on the work until the town makes a decision about what it wants to happen. Bragaw said he is looking for selectmen to give direction to the tree warden and town staff about how to proceed.

Letters about the meeting have been set to residents of Moss Street and affected sections of Courtland Street about Wednesday's meeting. The public will be able to comment at the meeting, Bragaw said.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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