Stonington Fighting to Keep Trees

Some residents along Moss and Courtland Streets in Pawcatuck are fighting to keep their trees, but Connecticut Light & Power officials said that if they don't come down, the power lines might.

The house at 50 Moss Street has sheltered four generations and, as family roots grew, so did the trees out front.

Jim Pendergast and his husband live there now and worry that the power company will cut them down.

"I think it's a decision that definitely benefits the company, but has negative side effects for everyone in this town, on this street," said Pendergast.

Trees devastated power lines in storms like Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, knocking power out to many homes for days. CL&P hopes to avoid such a catastrophe in Pawcatuck.

All along Moss Street, branches and power lines run together.

Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek, who also lives on Moss Street, said CL&P wants to eliminate a good percentage of the trees.

"To just decimate all the trees on the streets, it just takes away from the character of the area down here," said Haberek.

Residents fear that the loss of trees will reduce property values, but CL&P said, if the trees aren't removed, financial responsibility from future storms damaging electrical equipment will belong to the town.

"We've talked with our town attorney and there's no way they can ask and just transfer liability of any type of situation to us," said Haberek.

A few trees have been marked to come down, but the town is resisting removing more. They're hoping to come to a compromise.

"There's a lot of ways that we feel we can still maintain the character, but still be able to take away any type of problem with wires," said Haberek.

A Board of Selectmen meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the police station to further discuss what will be done.

Representatives from CL&P will be present. Residents are encouraged to attend.

The town's tree warden makes the ultimate decision on whether a tree is taken down or not, though CL&P can appeal to state regulators.

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