Tree cutting elicits concerns from residents

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Pieces of trees lie on the ground along the Exit 26 off-ramp on Route 8 North in Naugatuck earlier this month. The trees were cut by the state Department of Transportation without informing Naugatuck officials first. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Pieces of trees lie on the ground along the Exit 26 off-ramp on Route 8 North in Naugatuck earlier this month. The trees were cut by the state Department of Transportation without informing Naugatuck officials first. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Trees cut on state property have left some residents wondering if it was for safety or an oversight.

Earlier this month, the state’s Department of Transportation cut down four trees and the underbrush along the Exit 26 off-ramp on Route 8 North in Naugatuck.

While the cutting took place on state-owned property a regulation states that the DOT is supposed to notify the municipality the cutting will take place in, if the trees are over 18 inches in diameter, which these four trees were.

The DOT did not notify Naugatuck officials before cutting the trees.

According to Public Works Director James Stewart, while the DOT was supposed to notify the borough, it would not have had any impact on whether the work had been done.

“They don’t have to get our permission,” Stewart said.

The notification would have allowed the borough to see if there was another option besides cutting the trees down, Stewart said.

“It would give us an opportunity to look at tree and decide if it is an issue,” Stewart said. “There are some trees on state right-of-ways that we would be interested in trying to save.”

After a meeting between DOT and borough officials earlier this month, Stewart said the DOT agreed to contact Robert Roland, the borough’s tree warden, before any more trees were cut down.

For some borough residents the promise to keep the borough informed was too little, too late.

Resident Evabeth Kloc, who organized the meeting, said she was concerned with what she perceived to be a lack of oversight when the state was cutting the trees.

She feels there had not been a feasible plan put together of what should be cut and what should remain before the trees were felled.

Kloc was also concerned the trees that had been cut looked as if they had been healthy before they were taken down.

Stewart said the trees were cut because they were marked as being trees that had a potential of falling during a storm.

“They were large enough that they would impact the ramp if they fell,” Stewart said. “Also, they were leaning towards the exit ramp.”

Kloc feels it’s important the borough prevent the DOT from cutting down trees without giving the proper notification first.

Resident Len Yannielli expressed concerns over the trees being cut to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses at its May meeting.

Yannielli said the cutting is part of a larger problem.

“The problem is that we don’t have a burgess involved with the environment. We have a burgess attached to each of the commissions, right? That’s the way it works. But because we don’t even have a Conservation Commission, I guess we don’t have a burgess involved with the environment,” Yannielli told the board.

Yannielli recommended the creation of a Conservation Commission to help the borough deal with environmental issues that arise.

Messages left with the DOT seeking comment were not returned as of this post.