Substitute Senate Bill No. 669

Public Act No. 99-207

An Act Concerning the Removal of Trees from State Highways.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 13a-140 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The commissioner may cut, remove or prune any tree, shrub or other vegetation situated wholly or partially within the limits of any state highway so far as is reasonably necessary for safe and convenient travel thereon. No person, firm or corporation, and no officer, agent or employee of any municipal or other corporation, shall cut, remove or prune any tree, shrub or vegetation situated partially or wholly within the limits of any such highway without first obtaining from said commissioner a written permit therefor, provided however, that nothing contained in this [section] subsection shall limit the rights of public service companies, as defined in section 16-1, to cut and trim trees and branches and otherwise protect their lines, wires, conduits, cables and other equipment from encroaching vegetation. No such permit shall be issued by the commissioner unless the chief elected official of the municipality in which any tree with a diameter greater than eighteen inches is situated is notified in writing. The notice shall include the location and a description of such tree to be cut or removed. No such permit for the removal of any such tree, shrub or vegetation shall be refused if such removal is necessary for that use of such adjoining land which is of the highest pecuniary value. If such permit is refused on any state highway right-of-way, where the state does not own the right-of-way in fee, the owner of such tree, shrub or vegetation may, within thirty days thereafter, request said commissioner in writing to purchase or condemn an easement for the purpose of maintaining such tree, shrub or vegetation and, if said commissioner does not purchase the same, he shall condemn it, in the manner provided for the condemnation of land for the construction, alteration, extension or widening of state highways. Any payment so made shall be from funds appropriated to the Department of Transportation. Said commissioner may plant, set out and care for trees, shrubs or vegetation within the limits of such highways and, by agreement with the owner of land adjoining such highways, upon such adjoining land. Upon request in writing within thirty days of planting of trees, shrubs or vegetation to delimit boundaries of a highway by an adjoining owner not agreeing thereto, said commissioner shall purchase or condemn an easement for the purpose of maintaining such tree, shrub or vegetation in the manner provided in this [section] subsection. When the removal of such tree, shrub or vegetation is necessary for that use of such adjoining land which is of the highest pecuniary value, said commissioner shall remove the same upon payment to him of all sums paid for said planting and for any such easement with interest at the rate of six per cent per annum. Any person, firm or corporation cutting, removing, damaging or pruning any tree, shrub or vegetation in violation of the provisions of this [section] subsection, whether it was planted by the commissioner or not, without a permit from said commissioner, shall be fined not more than one [hundred] thousand dollars for each such violation and shall be liable civilly for any damage in an action brought by said commissioner.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 51-164p, any municipality, by ordinance, may establish a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars, for cutting, removing, damaging or pruning any tree, shrub or vegetation in violation of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, on any scenic road, designated pursuant to section 13b-31c, located in said municipality. Any such ordinance shall provide for notice and an opportunity for a hearing prior to the imposition of any such civil penalty. Any person who is assessed a civil penalty pursuant to this subsection may appeal therefrom to the Superior Court.

Approved June 23, 1999

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