By Talbert Toole
As trees grow and the limbs extend into powerlines, cities regularly have a maintenance team trim back the limbs for safety reasons. However, for Preston Boudot, a Water Valley resident, the execution of trimming trees located on his property were subpar in his opinion.
On Tuesday night of Water Valley’s aldermen meeting, Boudot addressed the board regarding a tree trimming that was conducted by the Water Valley Electric Department (WVED) on April 28.
Boudot said he was woken up at approximately 7:45 a.m. from knocks by the WVED on the day his tree was trimmed by the city. After discussing a parked car in the line of trimming, Boudot left for Oxford for a meeting. On his return, he found that 18-feet of a tree had been cut down by the department which he said has not only cost him privacy from his neighbors and Main Street, but his backyard now lacks shade for his children.
The tree which reached above the powerlines is now cut to the fence line on Boudot’s property and is now a stump.
“That tree was not trimmed,” Boudot said. “That tree was cut down.”
Boudot said he has three or four more Dogwood trees in the same line where the initial tree stood. He said he is afraid those trees will be cut down in the same manner if the maintenance of trimming residents’ tree is not changed.
After describing his frustration with the condition his property was left after his tree was trimmed, Boudot prompted the aldermen with two questions: was the maintenance legal and could have the method been done in a better manner?
“If this is allowed to happen and can happen to the rest of my backyard, it is a real problem and a real shame,” Boudot said.
City Attorney Daniel Martin said according to the contract between the provider, the city utility service, and the consumer, the homeowner or resident, states that the applicant agrees to permit authorized agents of the city free access to premises of the consumer for the purpose of inspecting, repairing and maintenance.
Boudot said at a former aldermen meeting it was discussed how much time the city spends on trimming trees. In his opinion, to cut time of trimming trees is to cut them down, he said.
“I hate to say it, but that is what it feels like,” Boudot said.
Mayor Donald Gray said the situation is difficult because it is a double-edged sword, so to speak.
“We do have to maintain [powerlines],” he said. “Preventive maintenance is a big part of it.”
Andy Hall, branch manager of the WVED, said the department has approximately 163 miles of trees it must trim to prevent branches from interfering with powerlines. He said by the time the department can finish trimming the entire amount of powerlines, trimmed limbs are already beginning to grow back and interfere with lines.
Hall said due to the extensive amount of powerlines, it is impossible for his department to completely trim the lines in one some summer; it takes three summers to trim the system out, he said.
“We don’t like to cut trees down,” Hall said. “But when we cut trees, or trim them, we have to get clearance where we are not fighting a losing battle when we come back six months or a year later.”
Alderman Kagan Coughlin prompted the suggestion could the city give residents or homeowners the option to take care of the situation prior to the city interfering with the overgrowth of limbs; however, Hall said there is too much liability to offer that option.
The discussion came to a close with no real resolution for either side, but Coughlin did ask Hall if he would look into a trimming schedule where the department could provide an announcement to homeowners before trimming trees in the future.