Local News

Raleigh Residents Torn Between Preserving Trees, Protecting Power Lines

Posted December 11, 2002 5:37 a.m. EST

— Most residents in North Carolina face a constant balancing act between preserving natural beauty and protecting power lines.

With its massive oaks and maples, St. Mary's Street is one of Raleigh's signature tree-lined streets, but some of its beauty is dangling over power lines.

"We hope that customers will be more understanding about the need for tree trimming," CP&L spokesman Keith Poston said.

A limb from an oak tree in Diana Bloomfield's front yard took out out a power line and left her in the dark for five nights. Still, she said she wants to protect her trees.

"I can see some of these limbs being trimmed, the ones that actually overhang the wires. I would not want to see CP&L come in here and chop these trees to 10 feet tall," Bloomfield said.

Andy Gilliam, a urban forester from Raleigh, said people tend to get tree-phobic after storms.

"We wouldn't have any large trees. We'd have a city of crepe myrtles and dogwoods. We wouldn't have any shade," he said.

Gilliam defends the city's restriction of trimming no more than 7.5 feet from the sides of lines. Utility companies recommend twice that clearance.

"Is the fact that you had trees closer to the lines in some areas than others, could it create additional problems? It probably could, but it's hard to tell," Poston said.

Bloomfield, like many people, wants the utility companies to bury all of the existing lines, instead of cutting back trees. CP&L officials said it is cost prohibitive, plus it requires digging up yards and trees. These are issues that the state utilities commission and city leaders will investigate once power is restored to everyone.