wisteria:bloomfield.jpg dead wisteria.jpg
Bloomfielder Debbie Rainone is very, very upset. She used to admire a lovely, mature, blooming wisteria in front of her house on Broughton, across from Demarest School, and maybe you did too. It was the focal point of her nicely landscaped garden…until this week. Debbie writes:

On Tuesday, January 26 at approximately 9:15am I heard a power saw, and went outside my home to see 3 men, 1 in a cherry picker ripping down my 20-year-old heirloom Wisteria vine wrapped around my 100-year-old oak tree. After questioning one worker, he said “it’s gone ma’am, I’m just doing my job.” My next door neighbor has the same Wisteria plant growing on his tree and it was spared.
Apparently they also cut it from the bottom up to kill it because it was written up on their work order as “poison ivy.” We did not have any branches even near the wire nor was the wisteria a problem. They were very arrogant and dismissive, then continued on to the next house. I was so devastated, I called my husband who in turn called the police to file a complaint.
At this point, the PSE&G Supervisor, Councilman Nick Joanow, Forester Steve Schuckman, Mayor McCarthy & members of Bloomfield Neighborhood Association have been notified. Our family is pursuing a civil suit. (Our heart is broken as nothing can replace this once stunning Wisteria, planted by our now deceased mothers’ own hands from her garden 20 years ago.)
Enclosed are photos of the wisteria in bloom last summer, and the vine on Tuesday when Lewis Tree Service, under contract to PSE&G butchered it. Hopefully, it will alert Bloomfielders to be more diligent and question what this tree service will be “trimming” when they get to their house.

Our neighborhood, which looked forward to the majestic blooms each spring will no longer be able to admire its stunning purple grape like flowers or breathe in the wonderful scent of its flowers. We are grateful that Demerast School asked for a small shoot for The Children’s Garden and that it is still thriving.

When I spoke with Rainone the desperation in her voice was loud and clear. “A couple of weeks ago, PSE&G put an orange notice on my door, saying they would be trimming trees.” Admittedly she didn’t respond, because she believed it would be responsible, reasonable trimming. Instead the wisteria was ripped off the tree, despite her pleas to the workmen to “be careful.”
When police showed up, they didn’t offer much support; according to Rainone police said that property 15 feet from the curb is town property, and they could take the whole tree down.
Rainone says she heard from the Mayor, who was not pleased, and may have temporarily stopped further tree work in the area. “The PSE&G supervisor called my husband and said that wisteria causes power lines to go down and kill people,” she said.
We’ll follow up and report on the outcome of this story.

38 replies on “Chop, Chop In Bloomfield”

  1. I share Ms. Rainone’s sentiments completely. I was appalled last Thursday to come home to a hacked crimson red maple in front of my property on Maolis Avenue, one of the few left in the neighborhood and one I’ve spent money out of my own pocket to have pruned and fertilized by professionals. This is the second time this has occurred in the last 2-3 years. The first time a gigantic “V” was carved into the middle of the tree so that the power lines could very freely pass through. It wasn’t until this past summer that the tree started to look a little more normal with some new branches growing at the very top to create the start of a canopy. I fear that this tree could become so severely damaged that it won’t be able to recover and fend off disease. We’ve lost already too many mature trees on our street in the 7 years I’ve lived here. It’s sad… and was largly preventable.
    Many of the mature trees on Maolis were hacked last week. I’d put money down that the crews doing the “pruning” are not certified, professionally trained arborists. I sent an email to Mr. Schuckman afterwards asking to speak about what can be done to prevent the destruction of our trees, but haven’t yet received a reply.
    Adding insult to injury, the crew did not do a good job of cleaning up after themselves. Small branches and countless twigs are strewn across the street and my front yard. And I would argue that the tree did not need as aggressive a cutting as it received. It was very strong and did not appear to be interfering with the power lines. I’d have liked to have had this supervised by a trained professional on the Bloomfield payroll. PSE&G cannot have indiscriminate carte blanche to cut trees without more oversight.

  2. PSE&G’s subcontractors have traditionally made a mess of perfectly good trees. We have had an ongoing struggle to keep things in and around our property from being butchered by the low bidders.
    It appears to be yet another case of the taxpayer (and bill payer) being treated as cattle. I do hope that the victims get some satisfaction in some form.

  3. an atrocity! i’m wondering why her reaction was so calm when the wysteria had such sentimental value. and was it on the strip between the sidewalk and the street, or was it on her own property? if so i’m sure thats some sort of violation.
    I’ve had random trees chippers and such come and take down trees on my street and in front of my house, and it is a very shocking experience. its like someone selling off your furniture or having the gutters and shutters ripped off your home. its unsettling that things look so different and you have no control over it.

  4. Property FIFTEEN FEET from the curb is town property?? If that’s true in GR, I’d better go measure, because my house is on such a small lot that perhaps the town owns part of my front porch and living room!
    I agree with the other posters–I am very certain that the “tree care” companies that do PSE&G’s maintenance are chosen on the basis of their low prices, not their expertise in tree preservation. I can understand why this woman is so upset–I would be furious.
    I’m sure it would be cost-prohibitive for a certified arborist to go on each one of these tree-pruning calls, but they should at least be supervising this stuff, no?

  5. In general, “landscaping” in this community is an atrocity done by illegal immigrants hell-bent on doing damage to anything green. Since most of them are used to the desert where only lizards and sand-crawlers live, they feel that anything green is a violation of the way things should be.
    This is so typical and so irritating of life in the area. It’s a beautiful place we live in and there are lunatics running around doing this stuff. I hope you pursue and win your lawsuit. It’s the only way that these creeps will learn.

  6. 15 feet, I suppose that means anyone hurt on their 15 feet of property sues them?
    Sidewalks crumbling are their responsibility to repair? Why have I heard otherwise? Do we have no rights anymore?
    Snow removal is their responsibility. I’d recommend you all stop shoveling those 15 feet, I’d bet you’d be heard then.
    Insanity. In one breath everyone is saying, “go green” and the power company is cutting all the green down? Legitimate safety is one thing but hacking away at the landscape is irresponsible!
    I’d suggest a class action suit but then I’ll be paying more for electricity to pay for their mistake. Lose/Lose : (
    Someone should chop chop the trees on PSEG officials homes! Another case of no one minding the store. Sad. very sad.

  7. I’ve seen these “tree people” who work for PSE&G. In no way are they trained arborists. They can operate a saw maybe, that’s about it.
    Last year, we had one ring our doorbell and asked if they could trim the oak on our law because some of the branches were interfering with the wires. He did a sloppy job and left a mess for us.

  8. bwt Debbie, sorry to read this. I enjoyed spotting a few wisteria in the area, so graceful and such an amazing scent. Hope you can recover some from Demarest and plant it away from the hackers!

  9. “The PSE&G supervisor called my husband and said that wisteria causes power lines to go down and kill people,” she said.
    I’d like to know how many people have been killed by falling wisteria-laden power lines. I’ll bet that nobody could really say. Now, I could see the logic behind that argument if the wisteria was actually creeping along the power lines. But if the wisteria was confined to the tree, they could have simply trimmed back any that might have been approaching the power lines, and might cause a hazard a few years hence. To rip the whole thing down strikes me as an act of corporate vandalism.

  10. This is murder. There is no getting around the facts: the company who performed this heinous act, and the utility who hired these assassins, are guilty of herbicide. They should be required to do long hours of community service on their hands and knees, with a garden trowel
    Perhaps they should be planting something than wisteria, however. Wisteria is one of the most aggressive of plants. In the plant world, it is considered to be a vicious predator, much like a tiger or lion–pretty to look at, but ruthless. The humans like it because of its beautiful flowers and pleasing trunk, but then again the humans like many things that are morally repugnant.
    Rather than plant wisteria, the criminals should be required to plant something much better for the planet, and closer to my heart: Symplocarpus foetidus.

  11. Does the fact that you distanced yourself with the (surely at least grammatically sloppy) phrasing of “the humans” indicate that you somehow see yourself as not of our species, mathilda?
    And if not, where do you fit in? (And have you ever also seen “The Mutations,” which was an Edinburgh-set horror film with Donald Pleasence and Tom Baker in which a mad scientist was out to create man-tree hybrids? By your seeming standards this one should be a classic.)

  12. Sadly, having power lines above ground, inevitably brings these consequences.
    A better alternative would be to put power lines underground where they actually belong, but this will never happen.

  13. Well, they must only be going after the pretty trees that everyone wants to keep because we have an ugly, mangled old oak that has clearly been “trimmed” several times prior to our ownership of the house and is in desperate need of being completely removed. The branches have actually tangled themselves around our electric/phone lines and, during any heavy winds, tug at the lines dramatically. I’m just waiting for the day these lines fall sparking into my front yard.
    Who is this town supervisor and what is his number? Maybe I can get him to redirect his hacking obsession to our yard!

  14. These notices from PSE&G say that tree trimming will be done by certified arborists. Also, the notices say that my trees could cause a power outage, as if accusing me of neglect. I’ve tried to get several tree companies to trim around the wires, but they refuse to do it – they’d rather have PSE&G do it. It is very frustrating as a homeowner – I have no idea what they will do.

  15. This event is horrible. I have seen this majeastic wisteria on Broughton Ave many times. When in bloom it was like looking at a garden of eden with hundreds or mabey thousands of beatiful flowers and the fragrance that filled the air could not be more wonderful. The people that took this piece of beauty away from the Rainones also took the beauty away from all who passed by this splender, the children going to and from Demerast School, the people in the neighborhood, the passerbys. What a shame. Those resposible should be ashamed. Who is responsible? PSE&G? Who is PSE&G? Somebody has to run PSE&G. What do they have to say? Doesn’t the town of Bloomfield have anything to say about how their citizens get crapped on? Hey leaders, where are you??

  16. It’s incredible that people can come to your property and cut down your tree without at least giving you prior notification. Imagine if doctors could barge through your door, remove your tonsils and then abruptly leave. I am not a lawyer, but I would think you’d have a case, unless the wisteria was an imminent and urgent threat to the power lines, which, in the dead of winter, it certainly was not.
    If you want to pursue this, I recommend you call 1-800-appletony and make an appointment today for a free consultation!

  17. I was talking to my arborist friend about this story; he told me that PSEG can cut anything within a pretty large radius (it may depend on the town how large) of their wires if they think it will damage them or cause them to fall.
    Legally, he says that one can’t do anything about it – except make sure to plant trees out of that designated radius of PSEG’s property.
    Regardless of whether it is their right or not, though, it seems like they should have been a bit more responsible with someone’s property and more clear with what they were cutting down. We’re talking about a utility company, though, so clarity and responsibility is usually lacking when they’re involved.

  18. A better alternative would be to put power lines underground where they actually belong, but this will never happen.
    Well of course that will never happen. Just think how insanely expensive and disruptive it would be to move overhead power lines underground in an already built-up area like this. You would have to tear up every street where they need to be moved underground. And how would you get the power from underground lines into each house, considering that service is now routed to the exterior of homes and business generally 10 feet from the ground, or higher? You would have to dig up the front yard of every house (and perhaps sidewalks, driveways, and retaining walls) to run the power line from the curb to the building.
    The reason more recently developed areas have underground utilities is that they can be laid in very easily before any paving and building begins.

  19. Dear All:
    This has been a very good discussion, but let me clarify a few things.
    The BPU is manadated by the Fed Gov to maintain a minimum safe distance from overhead power lines, principally what are called ‘primaries’ that conduct high voltage/high amperage power. These lines easily short when in contact OR when in close proximity to tree limbs (which by the way are filled with water). There is little control municipal or other officials have over this policy. While the professional arborist’s groups work closely with the utilities, providing electrical service seems to be more important to the general public than trees.
    As a professional, I no longer plant large trees under wires; what we are dealing with is old policy of large trees under wires, and little or no funds to pay for structural pruning. As one reader pointed out, only qualified, tested, and certified specialists can prune near energized wires. Few municipal or private arborists can do so.
    Second, regarding the ‘right-of-way’ Most – not all – municipal streets have a ROW of 50 feet. That means if the curb to curb distance is 30 feet, the ROW extends 10 feet into the front yard. Some streets are 60 feet, some 40. Bottom line is this: the municipality can plant trees in its ROW, which may appear to be your front yard. In most municipalities it is illegal to install any service (i.e., irrigation) in the ROW. This is because some services – water, gas, etc, are installed in the ROW and digging may not only damage the private residents’ irrigation but may cause damage or injury to equipment or personnel.
    As the forester for Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, and Montclair I deal with this every week. Yes, it is very frustrating to see our trees pruned so harshly. My objective going forward is to plan for the future and avoid these issues, while keeping our communities shady, green, and safe.
    Stephen Schuckman

  20. The point is Mr. Schuckman, is that these butchers cut down the wisteria right down to the ground. There was not a piece of wisteria within 10 feet of any powerlines! You know, you were there. What they did was overstep the bounds of what is right and wrong using “safety” as an excuse. To say “the the plant could at some time reach the lines and could cause problems” is a joke! Why not cut all the trees down on every street in town because of “potential dangers”. If there were parameters that needed to be adheared to, then the owner should have been notified. (ie nothing over 15 foot tall) In fact, people climb trees and fall from trees, cars crash into trees, branches sometime fall down and cause injury, is this possible safety concern reason to cut all trees to the ground. The problem is that big business, big government has a strangle hold on the citizens of this town and state. Until this changes citizens, watch your rights go right down the toilet.

  21. Fortunately, strong old wisteria tend to generously reboot after being chopped down.
    frankgg = voice of reason

  22. Those Utilities companies….they get all evil on us for something pretty like a Wisteria…but they don’t think twice about microwaving our livers with cell phone towers.

  23. What I don’t understand is people letting Boston Ivy grow up these huge beautiful trees choking and killing them eventually.

  24. I guess “trimming” means pulling the whole thing out. That photo on the left doesn’t look like “poison ivy” to me either.
    Hey smoghat, how many Spanish or Portuguese-speaking desert countries can you come up with? Because I actually passed fifth grade geography and can’t seem to think of a single one.

  25. Unless something like lime was applied to the roots the wisteria will grow back. Obviously it will take years to grow back to speciman that it was, but it will grow back.
    Like others have stated it is almost impossible to get Bloomfield to take care of trees that really are a danger, like the one growing in the devil’s alley in front of my house. We are dealing with PSE&G saying it isn’t dangerous enough and the town saying it is too dangerous for them to touch.

  26. Dear Mr. Schuckman:
    All well and good — but going forward you need to be aware who pays your salary — we the tax payers of Bloomfield and Glen Ridge. It appears that we have more than our fair share of town employees who are only too willing (police included) to jump on the Utility bandwagon. Please keep in mind that the Utility does not pay or contrubute to your salary. You are employed for the good of our towns and to ensure that residents are not taken advantage of by these uncaring Utilities. This is not the first time that so-called unprofessional ‘tree-trimmers’ masquerading as Aborists have entered private property and ruined trees and shrubs. Truly someting permanent needs to be done with respect to the Utilities. Every year the same thing happens. Instead of hiring renigade crews — the Utilities should be made bring our towns up to grade with 3rd world countries and put these power lines underground where they belong. The Government is looking to create jobs — well here is an example of where they might add stimulous money in addition to taxing the Utilities’ PROFITS to bring our country up to grade. Why can’t the U. S. upgrade — just because we built it this way almost a hundred years ago — it does not meant that it is not open for improvement. Improvement and new jobs — how bad can that be for a struggling economy. Stop hurting hard working tax-payers who are just trying to be green!!!!!

  27. I could not have said it better, Phil. It seems that many of the town employees forget this fact and are not working in the best interest of the citizens of Bloomfield. I wonder– would the result be different if the intended butchering of trees or the cutting to the ground a heirloom wisteria was at Mr. Schuckmans home? I am sure the result would not be the same.

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