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Carrboro Residents Stumped by Duke Power Tree Trimming Policy

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CARRBORO — Duke Power is getting an earful from Carrboro homeowners over plans to cut down some of the town's beloved trees. The company says it has to protect its power lines. Residents say the company is adding insult to injury by sticking them with the bill.

Flags and paint mark more than two dozen trees thatDuke Powerplans to remove from Frances Shetley's yard.

Shetley is disappointed about losing the old trees, but what really makes her mad is that the power company will not haul away the debris that is left behind.

The homeowner says hiring someone to do the job could cost her $1,000.

"I don't like it. I don't like it at all. I just don't understand how a utility company can do this to private property owners," says Shetley.

Duke Power says it has a long-standing policy of not clearing away the trees it cuts down because most customers do not ask them to.

Many Carrboro residents say if the utility company takes down their trees, it should also take them away.

"We have an obligation to be consistent and fair and not do one thing for one customer that we won't do for another," says Scott Gardner of Duke Power.

Duke Power started cutting down trees on Tuesday. It is putting brush and large limbs into a chipper and cutting tree trunks into smaller pieces.

Despite complaints from residents, the company refuses to remove piles of logs left behind.

"They're not listening to residents. They aren't being a good neighbor," says Shetley.

Carrboro residents do not dispute Duke Power's right to keep its transmission lines clear. But they do not think they should foot the bill for the utility company's housekeeping project.

Duke Power purchased rights from property owners more than 40 years ago that lets the company remove and trim trees.

Residents say they had no idea the utility company would one day leave them holding the tab.

Friday, the town asked theState Utilities Commissionto step in and stop the cutting. The Board of Aldermen has sent a note to Duke Power asking the company to reconsider its cutting policy.

Duke Power officials have since rejected the town's request.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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