Local News

Judge saves Raleigh tree from Duke chainsaw

Posted June 4, 2015

— A Superior Court judge said Thursday that Duke Energy cannot cut down a willow tree in the front yard of a Raleigh home.

Duke sued John Kane Jr., the son of North Hills developer John Kane, last month to assert its right to an easement across his Brooks Avenue property and its authority to cut down the 44-foot-tall willow that the utility says poses a threat to nearby 115,000-volt transmission lines that serve thousands of customers.

Kane said the tree is a fixture in his yard that he doesn't want to lose. He told Judge Bryan Collins in a Monday hearing that he has repeatedly offered to pay for pruning of branches to keep the tree clear of power lines but that Duke has refused.

Collins denied Duke's request for an injunction against Kane's efforts to block Duke crews from his property to cut down the willow. He said Duke hasn't shown that the tree's branches, which are about 10 feet from the power lines, pose an imminent threat to the lines.

Duke spokesman Jeff Brooks said the company will continue to seek ways to remove the willow tree.

"We are currently reviewing the judge’s order to determine what work can begin now to address near-term issues with the height of the willow tree and potential threats to the reliable operation of the line," Brooks said in an email. "We will continue to pursue removal of the tree at this location as the appropriate long-term solution, as allowed under our easement agreement for this property."

Kane said Duke is more concerned about the financial impact of pruning rather than cutting down trees in its easement and wants to continue fighting the case only because it dislikes the precedent Collins' ruling might create.

"Duke's policies of coming through and clear-cutting are not right for the community. They're not right for their customers," he said. "They've spent a whole lot more money fighting us so far then it would have cost to trim the tree."

Kane said he has already contacted a licensed arborist to trim back some of the willow's branches next week, and he plans to pay for the work.

Collins will allow utility crews access to Kane's property to cut down a 57-foot-tall dawn redwood tree on an adjoining property that encroaches on Duke's easement. The neighbor has already agreed that Duke has the right to remove that tree.

"We're going to work with them to cut down the redwood that's on our neighbor's lot that really is posing a risk and help them do that a quickly as possible," Kane said.


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  • Anne Jones Jun 4, 2015
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    I am so glad that this gentleman did not let Duke Energy bully him.

  • Steve Sanders Jun 4, 2015
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    Just goes to show you justice is for the rich!

  • Ben Sanders Jun 4, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Journalists always love some good irony. I wonder how many trees John Kane Sr has bulldozed to help make millions of dollars for himself?

  • Brian Pease Jun 4, 2015
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    I don't see the need for mentioning that he is the son of a North Hills developer - unless that's how he introduces himself.

  • Doug Hanthorn Jun 4, 2015
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    Either Duke has an easement or they don't. Sigh.

  • Mike Watson Jun 4, 2015
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    As long as the tree owner agrees to pay any and all charges for reinstating power if his tree knocks out a power line or transformer during a storm.

  • Ben Sanders Jun 4, 2015
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    Saved one tree, sacrificed another (much bigger) one.

  • Ben Raynor Jun 4, 2015
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    I don't see the need in taking down the whole tree. I see the need in keeping the right-of-way cleared. Also keep in mind that when a storm comes through and the tree or even a branch winds up on the line, you may be in the dark. I'm sure they could of met in the middle without taking it to court.

  • Mariann Byknish Jun 4, 2015
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    YEA! On the side of the tree....Duke energy....not so fond of....too many bad things happen because of them.

  • William Patterson Jun 4, 2015
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    good ...glad to hear it ...