United Illuminating customers sounded off tonight on the big tree trimming debate. Critics say UI is cutting down too many tree in its effort to prevent big power outages during storms and like many of his neighbors, Dan Kazienko is in a fight to save trees.
"People are very concerned about losing the quality of their neighborhood life," Kazienko said. "A lot of people would rather have a day without power then 365 days without trees."
People in Hamden gave their utility company an earful Thursday night but it wasn't about their power.
They don't like the utility's plan to trim trees that are too close to power lines.
"Trees add to the value of property so I'm definitely concerned they're going to do the whole area," said Eileen Dubois of Hamden.
Nearly 200 people from Hamden and beyond flocked to Hamden Middle School where the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority or PURA held a hearing on United Illuminating's proposal.
"No one here is advocating for power outages. We're advocating for retaining tall, healthy trees," said Mikey Hirschoff of the New Haven Garden Club.
"This whole idea of a one size fits all solution does not work. It doesn't work for Hamden," said Representative Mike D'Agostino of the 91st Assembly District
UI wants to cut trees within 8 feet of power lines. Power officials insist with all the severe weather in the state action is necessary.
But Bob Pattison, from Hamden's Alliance for Trees, says "We are advocating for a more nuanced approach to this plan that can be adapted to different neighborhoods and locales."
"Trees are important to the aesthetics of the town," said Jane Bouvier of Hamden. Aesthetics aside the power company says it's committed to working with residents in the 17 towns they serve and will consult owners if they plan to cut trees down. They are trees that are proven to help energy reduction.
"Because street trees benefit the climate by contributing to lower ambient air temperature and also wind speeds so that reduces the need for heating and air conditioning in buildings," said Colleen Murphy-Dunning of the Yale School of Forestry.
Trees also put nature's beauty on display and "that shade on those hot summer days, the wind going through the trees."
UI says it will continue to work with elected officials, tree wardens and community organizations to do its best and satisfy everyone involved.