Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JEA Tree Trimming Called Excessive; Needed to Restore Power, Utility Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JEA Tree Trimming Called Excessive; Needed to Restore Power, Utility Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Jacksonville Electric Authority officials are the first ones to admit it -- some of the worst storm damage they suffered during Hurricane Frances came in Mandarin where lots of trees fell into power lines.

So they hired out-of-town tree trimmers last week to cut away fallen trees and limbs that could cause future outages if another storm strikes.

The Asplundh Tree Expert Co. crew working Mandarin Road Thursday said while some drivers have cheered their efforts, a few stopped to complain about excessive trimming, one person blocking their trucks with his to stop them. Another called the police on them.

Mandarin Road resident Jennifer Fletcher said the Asplundh crew didn't just trim, they "massacred" and "completely mutilated" many trees. While she appreciates JEA's diligence in restoring power to the area, someone didn't tell the out-of-state crews that Mandarin Road was designated by the city as a historic and scenic corridor, partially because of its lush oak trees.

"That was not considered when they did this," she said. " I understand we just went through a hurricane. But they [the JEA] still need to take into consideration what they are telling these guys. These guys know only two words -- 'cut' and 'tree.' You can't glue the trees back together again, and they butchered them."

JEA officials say they worked with Asplundh crews to make them aware of the local trimming procedures as the utility endeavored to restore power to the 16,000 customers still without it late last week, about 1,750 from Mandarin.

City Councilwoman Sharon Copeland said she also asked the JEA to be careful in trimming, although a provision in the scenic and historic designation allows necessary tree trimming. While she said she has received more than 400 calls from residents asking for help in getting their power turned back on, others have asked for help in getting some trees removed. …

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