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Board votes to replace poisoned ‘I-40/75’ trees

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen had strong words to say about the poisoned trees between Wild Wing Café and the Interstate 40/75 on ramp.

Gary Palmer, associate Town administrator, briefed the Board on the poisoned trees along the Interstate.

An unknown person deliberately poisoned the trees using Spike herbicide, killing trees and undergrowth. The poisoning had apparently been going on for years.

“It was very effective,” Palmer said of the Spiking.

After receiving complaints, TDOT cleared the area of all trees and growth, leaving a long barren strip.

“If you go out there to the Wild Wing parking lot … you can clearly see the highway, the on ramp,” Palmer said of the now-absent sound buffer between the business and high speed Interstate traffic.

Palmer presented the Board with a proposal to plant trees in the strip, which is not in Town limits. The property belongs to TDOT, but TDOT had no plans to replant in the strip.

“It’s not our property. It’s our trees, but we’d be putting them on T-DOT property,” Palmer said.

The proposal allowed for trees to be donated from the Town’s “tree bank.”

“We do have a tree bank we use when developers are developing a piece of property. We have a tree ordinance that requires replacement of trees depending on the species, the size and the lay of the land, how it’s developed.

“So if they can not replant what is required by our ordinance, they have to bank those trees with the Town where we can use them at our discretion in conjunction with that developer,” Palmer said.

The trees would be purchased and installed at the developer’s expense, then maintained by the Town’s public works department.

According to Palmer, replanting would likely require around 20 redbud, winter king hawthorn, southern blackhaw and serviceberry trees. None of these trees would be much more than two inches in caliper, or width.

Dogwoods, which were planted in the strip prior to the poisoning, would not be replanted because they do not grow well without shade.

According to Public Works Director Bud McKelvey, the trees would likely need maintenance only during the hottest summer months.

“We would probably end up watering these two times a week … one person, four hours a week,” McKelvey said.

“The fall planting gives the trees a good start,” he added.

The Board unanimously approved replanting the trees.

“It’s going to take many years to retain the beauty that was there,” said Vice Mayor J. Michael Haynes.

Haynes then motioned for Town to request Knox County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the case and that Town offer a $1,000 reward for information that leads to “successful criminal convictions” of the suspect.

Haynes recalled a conversation he had with Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones. “Sheriff Jones is equally disturbed about this. This was, after all, the destruction of state property,” Haynes said. “I asked Sheriff Jones if he would be willing to undertake an investigation … and he said he would be glad to do so,” he added.

“I think we’re sending the strongest message possible that we’re not going to tolerate this in the town of Farragut,” said Alderman Tom Rosseel.


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