OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5150

AN ACT CONCERNING TREE WARDENS' NOTICES ON TREES AND SHRUBS PRIOR TO REMOVAL, TREE REMOVAL ALONG STATE HIGHWAYS AND CLEAN-UP BY PUBLIC UTILITY CORPORATIONS FOLLOWING CERTAIN TREE REMOVAL.

SUMMARY:

This bill imposes two requirements on utilities related to vegetation management (pruning or removing trees or shrubs around utility poles and wires). It applies to telephone, telecommunications, and electric distribution companies.

The bill requires, by January 31, 2017, utilities intending to conduct vegetation management to begin annually providing the tree warden or chief elected official of the town or borough where the work will occur, (1) a plan with the proposed roads or areas for vegetation management activity and (2) an estimated schedule for the work. Within 14 days after receiving the plan, the town or borough must make it publicly available for the rest of the year, either electronically or by some other method.

The bill also requires utilities to remove any debris from vegetation management activities conducted in “utility protection zones” (within eight feet of either side of their wires and anywhere above or below them). The requirement applies only to projects that a utility requests and receives approval from a tree warden or other applicable authority.

Lastly, the bill allows tree wardens to post notices of proposed shrub removal or pruning on groups of shrubs, instead of each individual shrub. By law, a warden must do this at least 10 days before removing or pruning a shrub under his or her control unless its condition requires immediate removal or pruning.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

BACKGROUND

Legislative History

The House referred the bill (File 398) to the Transportation Committe, which reported a substitute that eliminated provisions (1) requiring the Department of Transportation to submit plans for tree removal and (2) giving town tree wardens exclusive authority to hold certain tree or shrub removal hearings.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

26

Nay

3

(03/16/2016)

Transportation Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

31

Nay

0

(04/19/2016)