The following is a story published in the Greenville News Online by Eric Conner. We thought it would be of interest for those who have been concerned about the tree pruning.
“The Occupy Summit Drive tree-pruning protest appears to be at its end.
For the past couple months, Jim Suter has managed to keep cars parked on the streetside in front of his house to prevent Duke Energy from cutting back his trees. This morning, as the sun rose, it was instead a row including company vehicles and police cars. It’s been an act of protest (you could say an act of civil disobedience) that had worked, ever since North Main community residents gathered one morning to question the company’s pruning activities.
As the sun came up, Suter said he was preparing for his daily ritual – parking his family’s cars along Summit Drive and enlisting the help of friends to do the same – when he noticed Duke Energy SUVs and then police cars parked instead. A company supervisor showed him a document proving right of way on the portion of his property where crews would cut. Cones were set up in the yard. Suter said he brought out a folding chair and sat under the trees, but ultimately moved once he said he felt like he had made his point: Mainly, that the trees that Duke cuts as part of its maintenance plan to keep power on results in trees that look butchered.
The work commenced with police standing by and crews waving traffic through as parents dropped their kids off at Summit Drive Elementary and League Academy. “I made my point,” he said. “If those trees fall on my house during an ice storm, I’m not responsible for how they’re cut.” The company says the maintenance program is vital to ensure electricity flows into homes throughout its grid. “It’s an entire system, so one property owner’s decision to fight against tree-trimming could have an impact on other people,” Duke spokeswoman Paige Layne said.
The request for police presence is “very rare, but it is an option we will consider” for the sake of safety, Layne said. “People are very passionate about their trees,” she said, “and we’ve just had some situations over the past few years where the contractors we use to trim the trees have gotten into some situations that escalated.” The aesthetics of a tree pruned around a power line can look odd, she said, but the contractors follow industry best practices and communicate extensively with residents. Suter’s protest began in September when a couple in the community was set to meet with a Duke representative. News media was invited, and the representative drove away when he saw media present. A Duke representative later met with residents in an evening community meeting to discuss the issue.”