Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recent Media Coverage of BOL Committee Meeting

The Feb. 23rd issue of Journal News had this coverage:

County Vows to Revisit Tree-cutting Flap
Greg Clary -

A man works near Jackson Avenue in November.
Consolidated Edison has cut trees along its power lines.
(File photo by Ernie Garcia/The Journal News)

WHITE PLAINS — Residents packed a committee meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators on Monday afternoon, looking for help in shutting down Consolidated Edison's buzzsaws.

After an hour and 20 minutes, all they got was a promise that there would be another meeting on the tree-cutting controversy soon.

Mitch Perl, a Thornwood resident who came to voice his anger about trees taken down near his property, wondered why there was only an hour meeting alloted to something that is so clearly upsetting residents.

"I think the cutting needs to be stopped today," he said.

Democratic county lawmakers Peter Harkham and Martin Rogowsky, leading a joint meeting of the board's Energy and Environmental committees, apologized to the 50 or so people who attended the 3 p.m. meeting, saying they had to adjourn because a separate 4 p.m. meeting was scheduled in the same room.

Complaints against Con Edison's three-year tree-cutting program center on a wide-swath cutting style that takes down smaller trees and bushes to forestall other problems.

Also cited were contractors with little supervision and inadequate communication with homeowners.

Seeking county action, residents presented a resolution calling for a moratorium on the cutting, and petitioning the Public Service Commission to review the 5-year-old cutting regulations it imposes on utilities statewide.

Con Edison officials attending Monday's meeting spoke about the need to maintain the electrical grid and how trees can interrupt power when allowed to grow too large near transmission lines.
Public Service Commission officials pointed out to agitated crowds in Greenburgh and Pleasantville last month that the 2003 blackout of the entire Northeast originated with two tree contacts on a local transmission system in Ohio.

Residents understood the need to protect the lines and the power that serves their homes but they said they wanted more oversight of the cutting crews and a more reasoned cutting strategy.
They also wanted replanting and other remediation.

"We want restoration, replanting," said Dennis Adinolfi, who lives on Remsen Road and saw his backyard among the photos shown to lawmakers on a projector. "It looks like an F-15 came and dropped napalm. I have flooding in my backyard that wasn't there before the trees were cut."

County lawmakers say they will take the issue up again as quickly as they can, but residents say nothing will change as long as there is no penalty for a utility clear-cutting trees along its transmission lines.

Legislator Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, was the least patient of his colleagues.

"I'm extremely disappointed with Con Edison," Abinanti said, addressing utility officials. "Why don't you you just pour concrete and get it over with. ... I'm fed up."

Abinanti said the utility could find other ways, regardless of Public Service Commission regulations, to work with municipal officials and homeowners to come up with a balance between protecting electricity supply and the environment.

"This is a green county," he said. "You're destroying the environment here."

This week's Examiner (2/23) has an extensive article reporting the BOL committee meeting, as well as an editorial (see page 3 of pdf) in support of the LORAX Moratorium resolution.

The North County News (2/24) also has an article reporting the BOL committee meeting. However, a version is not yet posted online.

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