Chattanooga City Council watching over TVA tree cutting

Chattanooga City Council watching over TVA tree cutting

May 22nd, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy

Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy lashed out at TVA on Monday, saying its tree-cutting policy is completely unreasonable and could lead to a slew of lawsuits against the power provider.

"I think what they are doing is lazy and defies common sense," Murphy said.

The federal utility has said it needs to cut down trees in its rights of way that are or could reach more than 15 feet tall or it could face federal fines for vegetation-related outages should the trees fall on power lines.

Murphy thinks the 15-foot rule is absurd.

"That includes just about every tree," he said. "I've yet to meet a dogwood that's ever going to get in their lines."

The City Council is set to discuss and vote on a resolution today asking the Tennessee Valley Authority to trim back its tree-cutting program within the city and only trim where necessary. Murphy asked that the resolution be placed on the agenda.

TVA already has faced lawsuits in Knoxville where some homeowners are asking a federal judge to issue an injunction to stop the tree cutting.

TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said TVA always pays attention to what politicians have to say on issues related to the power provider.

"We always look at local government resolutions," he said.

He said TVA has always had a vegetation management program and is just expanding it.

Simply trimming the branches is not feasible, he said. The branches will grow back faster and would require more trimming, he said, costing TVA more money, a cost that will, in turn, will be passed on to ratepayers.

Murphy cited the lawsuits in Knoxville and said he expected TVA "will probably get sued here as well."

Councilwoman Deborah Scott said she has heard complaints from constituents in the Spring Valley and Horse Creek Farms subdivisions.

"People get pretty attached to their trees," she said. "You get used to the trees."

She said she hopes some type of middle ground can be found where not all trees are cut down.

Also on today's City Council agenda is a budget session at 10 a.m. to look at Mayor Ron Littlefield's proposed $209 million budget.

The council also will vote on leasing a building to Neema Resettlement Outreach Program for a $1. The program is run by Councilwoman Sally Robinson's daughter Susannah Murdock.

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