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Unsolicited trimming leaves some angry

Courtney Astolfi • Sep 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Kim Ney has lived at her old farmhouse with her husband, Bill Ney, since 2007, but this is the first time they’ve encountered treetrimming of this scale.

“When they were done, half of each tree was laying in our yard,” she said. “One tree was three cuts away from just being a trunk.”

Ney said no one from Buckeye CableSystem, or the contractor, notified her ahead of time about the trimming.

Additionally, after she filed a complaint with Buckeye CableSystem, she said employees there told her the company was allowed to trim the branches because the company is considered a public utility.

More than anything, perhaps, the Neys are upset by the excessive nature of the trimming.

Buckeye CableSystem representatives said they encounter these types of complaints regularly.

“I understand they’re not happy with the way it looks, but the problem for us is it’s a safety issue,” said Brian Woodrow, Buckeye CableSystem’s senior operations manager for construction. “We send the (tree-trimming) company out there and say, ‘Clear the line from point A to point B.’”

Buckeye CableSystem representatives said the treetrimming companies they hire are supposed to notify residents of the trimming if it appears someone is home, although that’s not required in all circumstances.

“We heard this cutting sound,” Ney said. “I went outside and asked, ‘What the heck are you doing?’ They didn’t even have the courtesy to come to the door and say they were going to be cutting.”

In this case, Ney said, the trimmers gave no notification of their plans — they simply began chopping away.

Ney said Buckeye CableSystem employees told her that, because it’s a public utility company, they are allowed to access the easements to alter trees or other obstructions interfering with utility lines.

“Because we provide phone and Internet service, we have a responsibility to keep those lines active,” said Patrick Deville, president of Erie County Cablevision, which operates as Buckeye CableSystem. “People need lines of communication.”

Some of Buckeye CableSystem’s services have aspects of “public utilities,” Deville said, adding the company is authorized by the state to address any obstructions in the utility’s right-of-way.

As for the excessive nature of the pruning, Woodrow said the standard clearance distance is 6 to 8 feet away from power or cable lines.

“They cut our middle tree down 12 feet,” Ney said.

Said Woodrow: “Some of those branches are good-sized. If you cut them off, you’re just going to have a stub. So they give it a clean cut at the trunk.”

Ney, who is the wife of Sandusky Register circulation manager Bill Ney, is not so convinced.

“The new line didn’t even hang down at all,” she said. “They attached it right to the existing line.”

Woodrow said the extra length that was trimmed away will ensure equipment used to install the new line doesn’t become entangled in branches.

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