KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee Valley Authority, which has come under fire in the past couple of years for trying to cut down too many trees along its transmission lines, was criticized here today for a plan to plant trees and shrubs along the shoreline of Tellico Lake.
More than a dozen lakefront property owners in the Tellico Village protested a TVA plan they said would block their views of the lake and undermine their home values. Resident of the Kahita subdivision at Tellico Village in Loudon Conty came to a TVA hearing today to picket the federal utility and to try to get the attention of TVA officials, who they claim haven't been willing to meet with them about the concerns.
"This makes no sense and I think it will devalue these 15 houses by at least $2.5 million," said Tom Boehm, a 10-year homeowner on Tellico Lake who came here today asking for a meeting with TVA to air the community's concerns. "If TVA is interested in economic development, this is definitely the wrong thing to do."
Boehm and the other protesters soon got their wish. TVA President Bill Johnson, who was here today to meet with Tennessee's U.S. senators about the agency's future power plans, came out to talk with the protesters and agreed to a future meeting.
"I plan to meet with them and hear their concerns, which is part of my job at TVA," Johnson said.
TVA's tree planting at Tellico developed after one of the those in the Kahita subdivision of the Tellico Village called up TVA two years ago and offered to pay to install rip rap along the lake shoreline owned by TVA. The homeowners live near the lake with lakefront views but TVA owns the easement along the lake.
In studying the offer, TVA determined a better plan would be to plant 180 trees, many growing up to 45 feet in height, and 105 shrubs on TVA's lakefront easement in front of the 15 houses.
The homeowners said they recognize that TVA owns the land. But they said they had previously been told when they bought their home sites that their view of the lake would not be obscured.
"This would totally block our view of the lake and devalue all of our properties," said Mary Taylor, who has lived in Tellico Village since 2009.
While the Tellico residents object to TVA planting more trees, dozens of neighbors to TVA properties along transmission lines have complained in the past couple of years about TVA's heightened vegetation control plans that have forced many trees to be cut down. To comply with stricter Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules for protecting electric lines, TVA is allowing fewer trees and shrubs around its transmission lines than it did in the past.
TVA owns more than 280,000 acres of recreation land around its reservoirs, which it tries to protect for wildlife and environmental reasons, and owns easements along more than 16,000 miles of transmission lines, which it tries to protect from falling tree limbs from storms to maintain better power reliability across its 7-state region.