The Knothole
Superior Court appeal of tree wardens decision

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Saturday January 04, 2003, 04:27 AM
<C Olsen>
Superior Court appeal of tree wardens decision
I have filed an appeal to the Connecticut Superior Court (Danbury) of the decision of my town's tree warden to cut a huge white oak (est at 300 years old). The reason for the appeal is that every other local tree expert who has inspected the tree (including my town's former tree warden, current and former tree warden's of neighboring towns, etc) has disagreed with our current warden's assessment, and given the uniqueness of the tree (oldest, largest in town)all feel that it could be prudently maintained for many years to come. There is even a plan of maintenance and cabling offered at no cost to the town - by the arborist who was initially called to provide a bid on removing the tree and who couldn't believe that the town would choose to remove such a tree. We had a public hearing and our tree warden refused to reverse his initial hasty decision, despite the overwhelming professional and community opinions to save the tree. He is a state licensed arborist, etc, (i.e. has the paper qualifications)however has limited if any experience with trees of this size and age, no experience cabling, etc. We would not be fighting his decision were it not for the preponderance of professional opinion that this tree can be saved for the community to enjoy for more years. If we get past the town's motion to dismiss (which is being decided and I believe we are in a good position to win)I hope to have these other arborists submit affidavits - many have indicated a willingness to help. Unfortunately, the tree warden's hasty labeling of the tree as "hazardous", without consulting any other experts, now has our selectman on the "liability" band wagon - this one arborist says "hazardous" and now the tree is a liability to the town. Any thoughts/suggestions or references of cases that might be helpful would be appreciated. Do professional arborists typically seek assistance/opinions from like professionals - our state statute allows tree wardens to appoint as many deputies as they like - it seems our warden was out of his league with this tree but was not willing to ask the advice of others.
Sunday January 05, 2003, 01:24 AM
Reply to post by C Olsen, on January 03, 2003 at 14:27:35:

You need a consulting arborist who is CT Licensed and experienced in doing tree risk assessments. A license is not necessarily an indication of expertise in risk assessment. The tree wardens try to do a responsible job, they have been given some training in risk assessment but may err on the side of caution.

You need to identify the particular risk that has lead to the removal decision. Cabling will do no good is mitigating a risk of trunk failure or uprooting... it may even exacerbate it if it leads to a greater bending moment.

I'm away from home but will get some names for you when I get back to the office.