Fate of Raleigh tree in judge's hands
Posted June 1, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — A Superior Court judge said he would rule Thursday on the fate of a willow tree in the front yard of a Raleigh home.
Duke Energy is suing John Kane Jr., the son of North Hills developer John Kane, to assert its right to an easement across his Brooks Avenue property and its authority to cut down a 44-foot-tall willow that the utility says poses a threat to nearby 115,000-volt transmission lines that serve thousands of customers.
"Those willow branches are unique. They can whip around, they can electrify and do all sorts of different things," Duke attorney Jamie Schwedler said in a Monday afternoon court hearing. "Contact with the line is inevitable."
Duke also contends in its lawsuit that a 57-foot-tall dawn redwood tree on Kane's property encroaches on its easement across a neighbor's property. The neighbor has agreed that Duke has the right to remove the tree, but Kane has for months refused access to his property to cut it down, according to the suit.
"All other homeowners have allowed us to come in and remove the trees we’ve determined we needed to remove," Schwedler said.
Kane said the trees are fixtures in his yard that he doesn't want to lose. He told Judge Bryan Collins that he has repeatedly offered to pay for pruning of branches to keep the tree clear of power lines but that Duke has refused.
"Duke would prefer to chop the tree down," he said. "Maybe take the tree away, maybe not. Leave the stump like they do all over town because it’s more cost effective for them."
He said that, if the tree poses a danger, Duke is "required to remove the harm by causing the least amount of harm."
Kane also argued that the utility has portrayed him in a bad light in the dispute.
"They try to paint this picture that I love this tree so much and am so thoughtless that I would put all these people at risk because I love this tree," he said. "I certainly don’t want to put anyone at harm or at potential of losing power."