Knoxville residents appeal to TVA board over tree cutting policy

Knoxville residents appeal to TVA board over tree cutting policy

Posted: Updated:
The remarks come during a TVA board meeting in Greeneville. The remarks come during a TVA board meeting in Greeneville.
Knoxville attorney Larry Silverstein spoke in opposition to the tree cutting policy. Knoxville attorney Larry Silverstein spoke in opposition to the tree cutting policy.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

GREENEVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville residents are addressing the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors Thursday morning over the utility's controversial new tree cutting policy.

The remarks come during a public comment session at the TVA board meeting in Greeneville.

The policy for TVA's seven-state region says it will cut down or remove any trees on its right of way that are more than 15 feet tall or might grow over 15 feet tall.

Knoxville attorney Larry Silverstein and two residents of the Kensington subdivision in West Knox County attended the meeting.

They appealed to the board to use their influence on TVA management, asking them to review the current policy and adopt one the residents say would be more reasonable.

"The impact is devastating to private and public property, the environment and wildlife," Silverstein told the board. "With 16,000 miles of transmission lines, this policy could easily result in the removal of 2 million or more trees, at a direct cost to ratepayers of several hundred million dollars and untold millions in destroyed property and diminished property values. Trees and vegetation, never before at issue, are suddenly and with little notice, removed from yards and businesses and alongside highways."

"Nobody is suggesting a policy that allows trees to grow into lines," Silverstein said. "The current policy removes non-threatening trees on the far edges of the 150-200 foot wide easements, as well as full-grown trees like dogwoods and redbuds, that are far below the lines. TVA refuses to trim trees, even though the relevant Federal Energy Regulatory Commission document is titled 'Why Tree Trimming is Necessary.'"

The board also received a copy of a petition signed by the Kensington subdivision residents.

TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore said after the meeting he understands residents' concerns, but the trees must go.

"We're going to talk to all those folks and we're willing to work on timing but eventually as you saw from those pictures that Rob Manning showed, eventually these trees are going to have to come out from under these lines. And the reason we buy right of ways is because if trees grow high enough, they'll fall over and touch the lines and they don't have to touch the lines. If any of you have walked across the carpet and touched the doorknob and felt the spark, the same thing can occur with transmission lines. And so those lines can arc over even before a tree gets tall enough to touch the lines. So eventually the trees have to come down. We're going to try to be as understanding as we can about timing. We worked with one firm in Knoxville to actually time this so we don't take the trees down until they can plant shrubs the next day. Shrubs are ok, trees are not," Kilgore said.

Two homeowners in Knoxville's Westminster Place subdivision have filed a federal lawsuit against TVA over its tree cutting policy.

But TVA already removed trees in another area of West Knoxville, along Summit Medical Group's location on Wellington Drive.

The utility's next board meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 16 in Knoxville.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.