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LCUB to ‘work with residents’
Town hosts public forum with utility officials


Farragut residents left a Tuesday, Sept. 19 public meeting with Lenoir City Utilities Board without much hope of stopping a LCUB juggernaut from “tearing up trees” and “destroying” what they call the “scenic beauty” of Farragut.

Some residents appeared with lawyers, one presented LCUB officials a petition protesting cutting trees along the Grigsby Chapel Road greenway and another chided Farragut Alderman Joel Garber, who is a LCUB board member, for voting in favor of tree cutting.

Holly Oaks resident Mark Vaughn said he was “disappointed that Alderman Garber” voted for the motion on the LCUB board to cut trees.

Farragut town officials set up the public meeting with LCUB general manager Fred Nelson and other staff members and community residents in response to a letter LCUB sent to Farragut residents Aug. 24. In the letter, LCUB senior line foreman David Rankin addressed trees in a 100-foot LCUB easement beneath a 69,000-volt transmission line that begins at a substation on Fretz Road and runs through Turkey Creek and parallel with Interstate 40/75. In the letter Rankin wrote: “it is imperative that any trees within the 100-foot right-of-way be removed in the interest of operating the electrical system in a safe and reliable manner.”

This means homes with trees in the easement along an approximate four-mile stretch of greenway could see the removal of any trees in the easement. For some, like Andover Place resident Phil Mason, that could spell the end of 53 trees on his property.

Mitch Ledbetter, LCUB engineer, said during the Tuesday meeting the tree cutting was part of a project to replace the 69,000-volt line, which was originally built in 1963. It would cost about $2 million to replace the line. The line runs along about a four-mile path through Farragut.

Ledbetter said part of the reason for the clearing of the easement would be to accommodate the large equipment that would be required to install new power poles and lines along the path.

Shannon Littleton, LCUB assistant general manager and company attorney, made it clear that LCUB had a legal right to keep the easement free of “obstructions and impediments.” Future users of the greenways in affected areas could face detours due to heavy equipment.

Residents, however, were concerned with the devaluation of their property and possible damage to it from cutting the trees.

Holly Oaks resident Jim Hollingsworth said he taught his children the beauty of trees and to preserve that beauty. He said he was afraid the beauty would be lost as would his property value.

Joe Watson, also of Holly Oaks, asked LCUB officials for some type of compromise.

Robert “Bob” Hill, chairman of the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, suggested LCUB decide which trees it wants to cut and submit the plan to

the FMPC for approval and

compromise.

“You’re going to cut a four-mile path through our town,” he said. “We [FMPC] wouldn’t let anybody do that.”

Another resident wanted to know if LCUB would be responsible for damage to any underground sprinkler systems.

Littleton said LCUB in the past has not been responsible for sprinklers built near the

easement.

“We will meet with everyone on a one-on-one basis before we start cutting trees,” Nelson said. “Each case will be dealt with differently because each piece of property is different.”

As part of its bid to work with the community, Nelson said LCUB could give residents an option in some cases. In some instances, he said LCUB would give residents a choice of having stumps ground up or replacing trees.

When asked previously about LCUB taking into consideration the town’s “cut one, plant one” tree policy, Nelson said he wouldn’t replace any of the cut trees.

 

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