Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Substitute Bill No. 5150

    February Session, 2016

 

*_____HB05150ENV___031716____*

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.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 23-59 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

The town or borough tree warden shall have the care and control of all trees and shrubs in whole or in part within the limits of any public road or grounds and within the limits of his town or borough, except those along state highways under the control of the Commissioner of Transportation and except those in public parks or grounds which are under the jurisdiction of park commissioners, and of these the tree warden shall take the care and control if so requested in writing by the park commissioners. Such care and control shall extend to such limbs, roots or parts of trees and shrubs as extend or overhang the limits of any such public road or grounds. The tree warden shall expend all funds appropriated for the setting out, care and maintenance of such trees and shrubs. The tree warden shall enforce all provisions of law for the preservation of such trees and shrubs and of roadside beauty. The tree warden shall remove or cause to be removed all illegally erected signs or advertisements, placed upon poles, trees or other objects within any public road or place under the tree warden's jurisdiction. The tree warden may prescribe such regulations for the care and preservation of such trees and shrubs as the tree warden deems expedient and may provide therein for a reasonable fine for the violation of such regulations; and such regulations, when approved by the selectmen or borough warden and posted on a public signpost in the town or borough, if any, or at some other exterior place near the office of the town or borough clerk, shall have the force and effect of town or borough ordinances. Whenever, in the opinion of the tree warden, the public safety demands the removal or pruning of any tree or shrub under the tree warden's control, the tree warden may cause such tree, [or] shrub or group of shrubs to be removed or pruned at the expense of the town or borough and the selectmen or borough warden shall order paid to the person performing such work such reasonable compensation therefor as may be determined and approved in writing by the tree warden. Unless the condition of such tree, [or] shrub or group of shrubs constitutes an immediate public hazard, the tree warden shall, at least ten days before such removal or pruning, post [thereon] on each tree or shrub and may post on each group of shrubs a suitable notice stating the tree warden's intention to remove or prune such tree, [or] shrub or group of shrubs. If any person, firm or corporation objects to such removal or pruning, such person, firm or corporation may appeal to the tree warden in writing, who shall hold a public hearing at some suitable time and place after giving reasonable notice of such hearing to all persons known to be interested therein and posting a notice thereof on such tree, [or] shrub or group of shrubs. Within three days after such hearing, the tree warden shall render a decision granting or denying the application, and the party aggrieved by such decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the superior court for the judicial district within which such town or borough is located. The tree warden may, with the approval of the selectmen or borough warden, remove any trees or other plants within the limits of public highways or grounds under the tree warden's jurisdiction that are particularly obnoxious as hosts of insect or fungus pests.

Sec. 2. Subsection (f) of section 23-65 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

(f) Any person, firm or corporation, other than a tree warden or his deputy, who desires the cutting or removal, in whole or in part, of any tree or shrub or part thereof within the limits of any public road or grounds, may apply in writing to the town tree warden, the borough tree warden or the Commissioner of Transportation or other authority having jurisdiction thereof for a permit so to do. Upon receipt of such permit, but not before, the applicant may proceed with such cutting or removal, provided doing so is also consistent with section 16-234, as amended by this act, if applicable. Before granting or denying such permit, [such authority] the town tree warden may hold a public hearing as provided in section 23-59, as amended by this act. When the applicant is a public utility corporation, the party aggrieved by [such] the tree warden's or commissioner's decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which shall have the power to review, confirm, change or set aside [the] such decision appealed from and [its] the decision of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority shall be final. The burden of proving that public convenience and necessity requires the proposed cutting or removal shall be on the utility. This appeals process shall be in addition to the powers granted to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority under section 16-234, as amended by this act, provided, if an application for such permit has been made to either a tree warden or the Commissioner of Transportation or other authority and denied by him, an application for a permit for the same relief shall not be made to any other such authority. Upon any approval of such a permit by the Commissioner of Transportation, [he] the commissioner shall notify the tree warden for the town in which the tree is located. Upon any approval of such a permit by the Commissioner of Transportation, the permittee shall notify the tree warden for the town in which the tree is located prior to cutting any such tree.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2016) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, sixty days prior to undertaking any tree removal along any state highway, the Department of Transportation shall submit the plan for such removal to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment and to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Such plan shall detail the proposed areas scheduled for tree removal, the time frame for such work, the amount of funds allocated by the Department of Transportation for such work and the distance such department intends to clear in such proposed areas. The plan submitted by the Department of Transportation pursuant to this section shall be reviewed and signed by a licensed arborist. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to apply to the removal of any tree or group of trees when such tree or group of trees constitutes an immediate public hazard.

Sec. 4. Section 16-234 of the general statutes is amended by adding subsections (h) and (i) as follows (Effective October 1, 2016):

(NEW) (h) When conducting vegetation management within a utility protection zone pursuant to this section, the utility shall provide for the removal of any debris generated as a result of such pruning or removal. The provisions of this subsection shall apply only to vegetation management requested by the utility and approved pursuant to this section and, if applicable, section 23-65, as amended by this act.

(NEW) (i) Not later than January 31, 2017, and each year thereafter, each utility intending to conduct vegetation management in a town or borough in this state shall provide the following to the tree warden of such town or borough, or to the chief elected official of each such town or borough: (1) A plan detailing the proposed roads or areas in said town or borough where such vegetation management will take place in the forthcoming calendar year, and (2) the estimated time schedule for such proposed vegetation management. Each town or borough provided with a utility vegetation management plan in accordance with this subsection shall make such plan publicly available, by electronic means or otherwise, not later than fourteen days after receipt, and keep such plan publicly available for the remainder of the forthcoming calendar year.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2016

23-59

Sec. 2

October 1, 2016

23-65(f)

Sec. 3

October 1, 2016

New section

Sec. 4

October 1, 2016

16-234

ENV

Joint Favorable Subst.