Tree cutting nets $85,000 for the town

Tree cutting on town open space — a few years ago — has resulted in an $85,000 settlement that will benefit town conservation efforts.

“Open space off Mamanasco Road, we had trees cut down,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “We’ve reached a settlement, $85,000.”

The Board of Selectmen discussed the matter briefly before voting to accept the settlement, which came from an insurance company for the homeowner who cut the trees.

“The $85,000 will go to replace the trees?” asked Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark. “It won’t get lost in our fund balance?”

The money — or the $65,000 left after $20,000 goes to cover legal bills stemming from the case — will go to the Conservation Commission, Marconi said.

“They want to replant,” he said. “It opened up a big area.”

Marconi said the area where trees were cut is visible from along Mamanasco Road, near where it intersects North Salem Road by the high school.

“It was quite an area,” he said.

Conservation Commission Chairman James Coyle said that since the tree cutting in question, the town has adopted an ordinance strengthening the commission’s ability to protect trees.

“This situation goes back several years ago where a property owner cut down trees on Conservation Commission open space in order to improve his views,” Coyle said in a Dec. 5 email.

“This event and others like it emphasized the fact that the Conservation Commission needed more teeth in the enforcement area. This particular instance had to go to court for resolution.

The ordinance now allows the commission to work with violators to resolve such problems without going to court as the town’s only option.

“The commission,” he added, “would use the net funds for purchase of new open space around town.”

The motion to accept the $85,000 settlement was made by Selectman Bob Hebert and seconded by Kozlark at the board’s Nov. 29 meeting. The vote was unanimous.