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Easement cutting sparks Andover ire


Some residents of Farragut’s Andover Place subdivision recently expressed displeasure with the Lenoir City Utilities Board and how its tree-trimming contractor, Asplundh, handled tree removal in their

neighborhoods.


LCUB had met with neighborhood residents, members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and others during a Sept. 19, 2006, community meeting at which Nelson detailed plans for work required as a prelude to replacing a power line built in 1963.

LCUB general manager Fred Nelson said Friday, Jan. 12, that LCUB must replace its aging 69,000-volt line from its substation. And as a public utility, he said, LCUB has a right to remove any obstructions from its 100-foot easement through neighborhoods and along a four-mile stretch of Farragut greenway.

“Most in that neighborhood have been great,” said Nelson, who said he had met with 80 residents directly affected. “We’re trying to deal with the situation as gently as we can.

“But I know some are upset. Some get aggravated.”

One such resident is Laurette Moran of 824 Andover Blvd. who said LCUB told her no work would begin along easements until ground dried from recent rains. Working in drier weather, she said, might have spared her yard, and those of neighbors, ruts and other damage from trees dragged and weight of trucks on softer ground. She also feared damage to a $6,000 lawn irrigation system beneath.

Nelson said crews make every effort to stay within the utility easement, but he noted that some driveways, trees and sprinkler systems were located on or near the easement.

“There’s going to be trees cut and ground or walkways torn up,” he said. “We have to get our equipment in there.”

Moran said contract crews topped several tall pines near her home Tuesday, Jan. 9, and left debris which, she said, should have been “chipped” and removed promptly.

“One swath of trees was butchered,” she said. Part of a lawn, newly reseeded, was “destroyed,” she added.

Moran, a 12-year Andover Place resident, said she’d been assured her that metal poles for the project would not be ordered until summer. Loss of trees, she said, combined with LCUB’s new metal power poles, “will make my home’s value plummet.”

Jeanne Diedrick, an Ashton Court resident, said 18 trees were cut from her yard and adjacent property. On Thursday, Jan. 11, she said, a crew with a chipper machine “came through here like the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’” to chip trees cut nearly a week earlier.

“I know they’re within their rights fifty feet in either direction on the easement,” Diedrick said, “but they’re not just working under the power line. You can see ruts where they came over my curb. It’s as if they’re aggravated to see we live in a nice community.”

When TVA crews, years earlier, came through the neighborhood, she recalled, “they were always cordial and easy to work with.”

Diedrick said she had asked that trimming work be delayed until after the holidays, and LCUB at least did that. Having trees downed while house guests visited would have ruined her holidays, she added.

Nelson said LCUB would help homeowners by providing replacement seedlings or by grinding tree stumps. But the work, he added, is essential to improving electrical service from a new Watt Road

substation.

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission Chairman Robert “Bob” Hill recalled urging LCUB, at the 2006 meeting, to consider installing utilities underground instead.

“They said that would be cost prohibitive,” Hill said. “L-CUB ought to look at construction planning and see if there wasn’t some way they could have cut fewer trees.”

Hill said he seldom mourns loss of pines, which break during ice storms, fall on power lines and interrupt electric service.

Ralph Perrigo, president of Andover Place Board of Directors, said he’d heard few complaints about tree cutting. Residents remain sensitive to changes affecting property values, he said. But all utility work he’d seen was done within the 100-foot easement.

Perrigo said when heavier trucks come in to install concrete footers and poles, he said, neighbors will watch closely to ensure vehicles don’t damage property.

 

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