Connecticut Governor Acknowledges Partial Responsibility for Illegal Felling of 186 Trees on Neighbor’s Land

Connecticut Governor Acknowledges Partial Responsibility for Illegal Felling of 186 Trees on Neighbor's Land

HARTFORD, Conn. On Monday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont admitted that he helped hire a gardener who cut down more than 180 trees and thousands of bushes on a property behind his Greenwich home without a permit. This ended days of questions about how involved he was.

People say that the wealthy two-term Democrat, one of his friends, and a neighborhood group cut down trees in protected wetlands, which is not their property, to get a better view of a pond. Lamont said to reporters on Monday that the trees were damaged by weather in the past and that the plan was to clean up the area. He did say that he was partly to blame for cutting down trees on someone else’s land by accident.

“I think that at the end of the day, I’m responsible and the (neighborhood organization) is,” Lamont told reporters Monday after going to a totally different event at Bridgeport Hospital. “They hired someone to do the work, and I think the person went a little over what was agreed upon.”

Lamont said that he thought the gardening company that he and the Ashton Drive Association hired would have asked the town of Greenwich for any permits that were needed. He also told reporters that he didn’t know he needed permission from the city to cut down what he saw as dead trees.

He said, “Now I know, and it will never happen again.”

After hearing the sound of chainsaws on another undeveloped piece of land where some of the cutting down took place, Lamont and his friends were told to stop cutting down trees in November. The manager said that cutting down trees “went far beyond destruction of wetland vegetation,” according to records made public by the Greenwich Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Authority.

Fred Jacobsen, who is in charge of the land owned by INCT LLC and used to belong to the Rockefeller family, said that the “massive cutting effort” looked like it had been going on for several days and that he saw more than 10 workers cutting down trees and bushes. According to the minutes of the wetlands commission, Alexander Vik and his wife Carrie, Lamont’s wealthy neighbor, owned land that was used to get to the spot.

“They knew they would never be able to do this if they had applied for a permit, so they did it anyway,” Jacobsen told the commission. He said that a plywood path had been set up for cars and a wood chipper.

The commission minutes say, “When Mr. Jacobsen walked over, the whole group of workers started running out of the area and getting together to leave the property.”

The town might fine Lamont and his friends in the end.

Members of the Inlands Wetlands and Watercourses Agency met in a special session on Monday to try to come to an agreement on how to best replant the land. Based on the minutes, Jacobsen says that the site should be fixed up so that it looks as much like it did before. He said that 186 trees were cut down.

Since the illegal tree-cutting became public, Lamont has been out of state. He has been attacked for not publicly explaining what happened other than a short statement last week that said the matter “is a dispute between the homeowners association and one of the neighbors.”

“I shouldn’t be able to cut down that many trees, but if it were me, I probably would have gotten out of the way of this.” In November, this took place. “They ought to have had a better answer by now,” said Republican House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora on Monday.

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