Neighbors take a stand against Oncor crews cutting down trees

Neighbors take a stand against Oncor crews cutting down trees

Most mornings Juanita Erwin makes a cup of coffee and looks out at her oak tree in the front yard of her Weatherford home. She's been doing the same morning routine for 30 years.

"My husband planted the tree himself. Grew it from an acorn," Erwin said.

Thursday, helicopters flew over as Erwin's neighbors stood in front of that tree, blocking crews from Oncor from cutting it down.

"We told them they had to leave and get a permit," Arthur Erwin said, Juanita's husband.

Oncor says it was doing "vegetation management" clearing trees and plants that pose a risk to the vital electric infrastructure." In a written statement from the power company, Oncor says it chose trees and plants based on their height and proximity to the high voltage lines.

But neighbors say many of the trees and plants weren't close to the lines above. Paul Savano yelled at crews cutting down plants in his front yard that he says would never grow taller than six feet tall.

"They have the right to some of these things. But they're going over the line," Savano said.

While neighbors own the properties, Oncor has jurisdiction on a 75 foot radius of land from the towers. In the written statement the company says it takes its job of keeping lines and neighbors safe seriously.

"By performing this necessary work, Oncor is also ensuring its plan to adhere to federal and state guidelines that require a safe and reliable electric grid."

Eventually Oncor officials came back with permits and started cutting trees at about three homes. The Erwins say it's an even tougher blow because the power lines that are being protected don't even serve them.

"We don't get our power from Oncor here. That's going to someone else," Erwin said.

The couple says they've made countless memories under the trees from Easter egg hunts to family pictures. While the trees are gone they say the memories run deep.

You can read Oncor's full statement in its entirety below:

“Oncor certainly understands our customers’ love for their trees and the importance and beauty they provide the communities where we all live and work. By conducting ongoing vegetation management, Oncor is acting on its obligation to provide safe, reliable and affordable service to all of our customers. This extra high-voltage transmission line is essential to the flow of power across this region and North Texas, and a small number of trees posed a risk to the transmission line. By performing this necessary work, Oncor is also ensuring its plan to adhere to federal and state guidelines that require a safe and reliable electric grid. We all know that trees and power lines do not mix, and Oncor is working around the clock to maintain a reliable electric grid for over 10 million Texans.”

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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