On Tuesday, Greenwich Tree Warden issued his decision on a request from Joe Pecora, a contract buyer of 5 Brookridge Drive, to cut down a mature Norway Maple on town property outside driveway where he plans to develop a five-story, 86 unit apartment building per the state’s affordable housing statute 8-30g.
Pecora argued during a Zoom public hearing on Friday afternoon that the tree would impede the turn radius of a town firetruck in an emergency.
“The treescape along Brookridge is beautiful, but it’s new,” Pecora said. “It’s not native trees. It continues that way all the way down past 19 Brookridge Drive. You can see the town has allowed most of the trees to be removed and new trees to be planted, for no reason other than what the homeowners would have wanted.”
“We’re looking to remove one for the purpose of life-safety,” he said.
Neighbors didn’t buy it.
Emergency Services Worker worker Tara Restieri of Old Church Road said, “If we need to get access to that property, it’s not going to be about turn radius. We would get access to that property. You cannot tell me that we, as EMS, would not be able to access that property, to put out a fire or bring a person in an ambulance.”
Former P&Z commissioner Nancy Ramer, who lives in Riverside, said there were numerous neighborhoods where the firetrucks don’t access a property put out fires. “If the applicant had gone to the fire department and had an opinion in writing that there was a safety issue, we might be able to think about this,” she said.
Though the tree warden urged neighbors not to bring up the affordable housing proposal, neighbors said they just couldn’t get over the fact that Mr. Pecora had clearcut the property of about 22 mature trees before having even submitted a pre application.
The owner, Chris Franco, said the contract allowed Mr.Pecora to remove trees, but he was surprised by the clear cutting.
Pecora said the removal of the town tree on Brookridge was necessary regardless of whether the project was approved.
On Monday night, Dr. Kramer shared his decision.
“A presentation depicting the scope of the project was shared with all the attendees as to the future development of the property,” he said. “The larger discussions were the reasons for requesting the need to widen the existing driveway located on Brookridge to be a width of 26 feet. It was stated in order to expand the driveway into Town Right-of-Way a Norway maple with a DBH (diameter breast height) of 23 inches would need to be removed.”
“The driveway expansion was based on fire truck accessibility,” Kramer continued. “Having objectively heard the reasons for both the tree to be removed and for the tree to remain; the information presented at the Tree Hearing at this time does not warrant a healthy large tree that is providing numerous environmental benefits to be removed. Thus, it is the Tree Warden’s ruling that the Norway maple remain and not be removed.”
Kramer noted that a party aggrieved by such decision may, within 10 days, appeal the decision to superior court.
“As your Tree Warden, by Connecticut statute, I am charged with the ‘care and control’ of all town-owned trees. The Tree Division doesn’t take this responsibility lightly,” Kramer added. “Each and every tree
slated for removal is inspected and decided on a case-by-case basis.”