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Release Date: January 12, 2010

This past Saturday members of the Town Board met with State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins and the Public Service Commission to discuss the recent tree clearing that took place off of Ridge Road and the surrounding neighborhoods. The Senator and PSC also attended a meeting in Pleasantville earlier in the day –and heard similar complaints from residents who felt that Con Ed cut down trees that did not impact the power lines.
The Public Service Commission representative advised about 100 people who attended the meeting  that the PSC would investigate specific properties where there was improper or excessive removal of trees. If you provide me with specific complaints (and backup documentation) – I will forward them to the PSC.
Mark Gilliland of the Irvington Tree Preservation Project e mailed me the following thoughtful recommendations that will be forwarded to NYS Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins and the PSC. If you support these recommendations – please advise our State Legislators, Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. You should also reach out to the PSC. Please send me copies of all correspondence.  The recommendations that Mark made should be considered a first draft. Your additional thoughts and feedback would be appreciated.
Paul Feiner
Garry A. Brown, Chairman
NYS Public Service Commission              
3 Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY  12223
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky
5 West Main Street
Elmsford, NY  10523
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Room 415 LOB
Albany, NY  12247
If you would like to watch most of Saturday’s meeting please visit: http://irvtrees.blogspot.com/2010/01/video-of-saturdays-town-hall-meeting.html.
Our community is fortunate to have dedicated civic activists like Mark working hard to come up with constructive ideas.
There must be an immediate moratorium state-wide on any further transmission line clearing including projects currently underway, with individual approvals to re-commence work only after proper public review. (Exceptions would be made for instances of urgent public safety.) Too much environmental damage and property value loss has occurred already!
1.     Restitution to homeowners and municipalities for improper and excessive removal of trees. (See last item below concerning updating the vegetative management guidelines for a list of issues, both property and eco-system related, to be addressed by replanting, remuneration or other agreed upon methods.)
2.     Review of original PSC 2005 SEQRA filings (and related PSC or utility filings) concerning transmission line clearing – invalidate and establish new public hearings with a science-based, fact-based EIS analysis. (Why? Original SEQRA actions had no public hearings, no public review. PSC used ‘short form’ SEQRA which is invalid for such extensive work state-wide. Also, short form indicated “no environmental impact” with absolutely no discussion of factors such as habitat loss, stormwater issues, noise abatement, privacy loss, property value loss and other ecological and aesthetic concerns.)
3.     Update / moderization of PSC and utility Vegetative Management guidelines for ROW. Based upon NERC recommendations for tiered-cutting dependent upon tree height & distance from centerline of transmission towers, while taking tree species into consideration. New guidelines must take into account: property value impact, aesthetic impact, view shed buffers, habitat protection, stormwater mitigation, noise abatement, management of invasives and deer (as the cut corridors. esp. clear cut, are “highways” for the spread of invasives, while at the same time provide optimum browse for white-tail deer.) Public review and feedback required.
4.     Proper advanced notification by utility including detailed written description of intended work. On-site consultation with both private and municipal property owners affected by project. Second opinions via Senior arborist. Documentation and sign-off of all agreed upon work.
5.       Use of better-trained, higher skilled and more closely supervised contractors for any line clearing or ROW maintenance. Contractors must also share greater liability (with Con Ed) for trespass, improper removals and so forth. Supervision on-site by senior arborist at all times. Clearly defined and publicized escalation and stop-work procedures. Enforcement of hours-of-work limitations

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