The Greenwich Tree Conservancy recently heard from a resident whose neighbor was trying to save her private trees from extensive pruning by Eversource. The neighbor did not know what rights she had, and the trees were “butchered”. We often are asked what can be done to protect the tree which shades your 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. While 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.
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 brochure, “What Are My Tree Rights Relating to Public Utilities?” that is available at Town Hall or can be viewed on our website www.greenwichtreeconservancy. Don’t feel powerless when confronted with Eversource!