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Board considers easing tree-trimming requirements

By Randy Bell

Tree trimming

Some of the Clinton aldermen are concerned that tough regulations regarding utility line tree-trimming in the City may have led to unnecessary power outages. A local ordinance requires Entergy and other utilities to get recommendations from a “certified arborist” before cutting limbs and trees along their rights of way and mandates that a cleanup crew accompany the tree-cutters. The ordinance was passed two years ago following complaints from citizens about trees which were left deformed after utility trimming and piles of limbs that weren’t quickly picked up.

Community Development Director Roy Edwards told the Board during a December 19 work session that Entergy is now doing only emergency tree-cutting in Clinton. And one alderwoman told her colleagues it’s putting the City’s electrical service at risk.

“We have more outages in Clinton now than any other place, because they haven’t been cutting limbs,” said Ward 1’s Karen Godfrey. “And that is because of the ordinance. There is no reason to have an arborist on site when they’re cutting trees. It’s more important that we have electricity than that the trees look perfect.”

Alderwoman-at-Large Ricki Garrett believes there’s a middle ground that can be found.

“I do think there’s a way we can compromise so that Entergy can get the work it needs to do in order to keep the electricity on and, at the same time, the Board can feel like that the work is being done properly and that the debris is being removed.”

Godfrey said sometimes the City does things that sound like a good idea without considering the consequences. But Ward 5 Alderwoman Beverly Oliver said there were complaints that the utility’s contractor was “mutilating trees.”

An Entergy spokesperson emailed the following statement:

“Vegetation is a leading cause of power outages, and proactively trimming trees is an important measure Entergy Mississippi takes to improve service reliability and prevent outages before they occur. Keeping vines, limbs and dead or decaying trees away from our equipment is a full-time job. It takes about four and a half years to cycle through vegetation maintenance for our entire forty-five-county coverage area.”

“We make a concerted effort to preserve tree health and are recognized as a Tree Line USA utility, the Arbor Day Foundation’s designation for utilities that follow their tree-trimming practices to ensure the health of the tree. We also follow the International Society of Arboriculture’s specifications and hire professional tree-trimming contractors who are trained in Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, the latest arboricultural techniques and safety procedures.”

“Entergy Mississippi follows the City’s ordinances when trimming trees in Clinton. We also welcome the opportunity to discuss how proposed changes to the City’s ordinance would affect Entergy Mississippi’s tree-trimming work in the area and improve service reliability for Clinton residents.”

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