Local News

Fight with Duke Energy over tree is rooted in property rights

Posted March 7

— A Raleigh man is taking on Duke Energy over a tree in his front yard that the company said must be cut down to protect power lines.

It has been about two years since Duke Energy sued John Kane to cut down a willow tree in his front yard.

“It has been incredibly frustrating,” Kane said.

Duke officials said the tree on Brooks Avenue threatens power transmission lines overhead.

“Our goal is to ultimately ensure the safety of the power line, to ensure service remains reliable for all of our customers,” said Jeff Brooks with Duke Energy.

Like the tree, Kane would not move, saying an easement did not give Duke Energy the right to remove it. It remains on the property because a judge denied an injunction request from the utility giant.

Duke and Kane are now in mediation. Duke officials will not comment on the process, but Kane said it is not going well. He said there have been proposals to prune the tree and to sell Duke Energy an easement and possibly give the money to charity.

“If we make a special arrangement for that customer, it’s not fair for another customer whose tree we may have to remove,” Brooks said.

Kane said the tree is beautiful, especially when it’s in full bloom, but the argument is no longer just about the tree- it’s about property rights.

“It has to do with the fact that this is private property that my wife and I bought,” he said. “This is my property and my tree and you can’t have it just because you’d like it.”

According to Kane, Duke Energy also made a proposal. They would cut the tree down, remove the stump and limbs and plant something else in its place.

Kane had a few conditions for that deal.

“We will do that if you agree to do the same for every residential customer across the state,” he said.

If Duke Energy officials broke that promise, the proposal would require Duke to pay a fine. That deal didn’t pan out.

“We want to do whatever we can to resolve the situation amicably, but at the end of the day, we have an obligation to supply service for our customers,” Brooks said.

Kane said a tree in a neighbor’s yard is also disputed and he believes Duke Energy is trying to avoid setting a precedent in the cases.

The argument could end up back in court.


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  • Pete Knowles Mar 8, 2017
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    This is Kane's son, Mr. Thompson.

  • Gary Thompson Mar 8, 2017
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    as for your dead tree unless they topped it out trimming a pine will not kill it. Suggest checking for pine Beatles. They will spread and can kill a pine in just a few years.

  • Gary Thompson Mar 8, 2017
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    asplunde removes the small stuff that can go through a chipper. They leave the logs for someone else so apparently that is who dropped the ball. Pine trees log can be sold just call around to logging companies

  • Gary Thompson Mar 8, 2017
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    By the way WRAL failed to mention he is the owner of Kane Properties as in all of north hills mall

  • Gary Thompson Mar 8, 2017
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    If he doesnt want ut cut then put the power underground and charge him for the labor of the crews required. Simple. I know who jane is and he has plenty of money. The rich always think they are special

  • Brian Tucker Mar 8, 2017
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    Same thing happened in our neighborhood, Duke had a tree trimming company come in and trim big trees off of and around power lines, but some of the pines were trimmed or butchered to the point of a dead tree now, so who comes and cuts the dead trees down now, mostly pine ? Is it a home owners costs or does Duke have to do the work and remove the tree ? Time will tell as to what happens.

  • Anita Gibson Mar 8, 2017
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    Duke had Asplundh come to trim trees. They butchered them, absolutely butchered them. They were beautiful old pine trees and they ruined them. Then they left the mess all over the back yard and left. We complained and they begrudgingly came back out and sawed up all the limbs they cut out of several trees. Rather than put them in the wood chipper or haul them off they stacked the big logs all around the trees and left that, the smaller stuff they stacked in a huge pile in our elderly neighbors yard. It attracted snakes and something that tunneled in there and made a home. We have no use for the logs and they sit there after a year, and us cleaning up the rest of the mess, for the neighbor too, as an ugly reminder of why we hate them. I don't blame this guy, I wouldn't want them touching another tree.