Photo of Senator Kennedy.

State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Kennedy Leads Final Passage of Legislation to Prevent “Surprise Cutting” of Municipal Trees

HB 6356 will prohibit municipalities and utility companies from cutting down trees on municipal property without prior public notice

Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) today led the bipartisan passage of legislation to ensure that the public is properly notified of any plans to remove trees from municipal property. The bill now moves to the desk of the Governor and awaits his signature.

“Connecticut’s trees make this state such a beautiful place to live, and the decision to cut them down should not be made lightly,” said Senator Kennedy, Co-Chair of the Environment Committee and Master’s Degree graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. “I have heard from many people who feel that the trees in their town were hastily removed during overzealous trimming campaigns. This bill will establish a transparent evaluation process before government actors or utility companies cut down any of our state’s irreplaceable trees without an opportunity for members of the public to express their objection.”

Current law requires that the state, municipalities and utility companies monitor, prune and remove dead, dying or hazardous trees. However, many Connecticut citizens believe that utilities overreacted to Tropical Storms Irene and Sandy and have used these and other weather events as a justification for clearcutting.

HB 6356 will prohibit cities, towns and utility companies from cutting down trees located on municipal property without prior public notice. Utility companies would also be required to make a formal written request to the city or town for permission to cut down a tree, even if the tree is located in a “utility protection zone” located on municipal property. The bill contains some important common sense exceptions, such as when a tree poses an immediate hazard or endangers power lines. HB 6356 has gained the support of many municipal leaders, including the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), which submitted testimony in support of the bill.

CCM believes that HB 6356 clarifies the process of tree removal, codifies the rights of the public and municipalities to be notified of utility tree work, makes uniform the consent procedures from abutting property owners, and makes the process more predictable and consistent among all municipalities across the state.

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