CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham resident Fran Drew was driving on Shunpike last month when she noticed trees being cut down near the entrance to Cougar Field and stopped to find out why.

Chatham Township Committee member Karen Swartz reached out to the county and came back with the answer provided by a spokesperson for Morris County Freeholder Deborah A. Smith, who said the trees were hollow and had been requested for removal. 

"The County Shade Tree Division is doing the work," Larry Ragonese, communications manager for Morris County said on behalf of Freeholder Smith. "JCP&L’s contractor previously removed the tops of 7 to 9 hemlock trees in that area to increase clearances around the power lines. The janitor at the nearby school contacted our Shade Tree Office and asked that the trees be removed as they are lifting the nearby asphalt sidewalk.

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"When our Shade Tree crews investigated, they found several trees that have hollow trunks and are a danger to the public. The three trees removed today were hollow."

Swartz said she had reported the work was to be done at the March 14 meeting of the Chatham Township Committee.

Drew came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night to ask the mayor and council if they had any information on who authorized Morris County to cut down what she said were healthy Evergreen trees (see her comments in the video below).