Unsolicited trimming leaves some angry

They massacred the trees. These are the words of one Milan Township resident after a tree-trimming service, contracted by Buckeye CableSystem, hacked off the thick branches of 50-year-old trees lining her River Road property.
Courtney Astolfi
Sep 8, 2013


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.


swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

Are you kidding me!? People complaining about pruning trees to make sure the trees don't interfere with the power lines. Gimmie a break people.

Darwin's choice

Well,Kat, the Cable Co. lines are not power lines,and in fact are located well beneath the power lines. Say what youd like, but most of these tree's that have been hacked are 70 to 100 + years old, and obviously were well established before Buckeye Cable and Ohio Edison were around. I think that with the digging technology available now, that these companys should re-run lines underground! I'm sure that the cost to do that would be offset by the cost of repairing downed lines. Just a thought. My own tree's have been destroyed by Ohio Edison's butcher's. Several were over 100 years old.....

Licorice Schtick

Deregulated utilities are allowed to do everything short term cheapest. Why are we surprised that we get unreliable ugly crap? Why is ugly OK because it's cheaper? Why do we allow ugly no-longer-used wires and equipment to stay on poles? Buried cables are less vulnerable to damage and attack but initially, (horrors) they cost more. We are being had by a corrupt system of laws (and absence of laws) that favors the utility companies, not the people they're supposed to serve, because the lawmakers are for sale to the highest bidder through a corrupt system of "campaign contribution" payoff.


Yeah, Ohio Edison did this several years back.. It weakened the trees so when the storms came through many of those butchered trees came down.


You can go after the contractor if they weaken the tree so much that they create a hazard to those who have to pass underneath. You need to prove that it is a hazard though.


Does that apply to trees which used to line the streets?


I threw the contractor for Toledo Edison out of my yard and demanded a supervisor (the man told me to calm down and threatened to call the cops on me, I offered him MY phone or asked if he wanted me to dial). I then demanded the supervisor from Toledo Edison to join us. The contractors trim BEYOND the specifications of Toledo Edison. They do not measure and just "eyeball" it. I refuse to have people talk to me like I am stupid just because I am a stay at home mom. After the Toledo Edison supervisor for the tree trimming division joined us, there was only ONE SMALL section of tree he saw an issue with that he ASKED to remove and I saw no problem with. It was removed and he had the contractors leave. Sometimes it is not the actual utility that is the problem but the CONTRACTOR they hire to do the job.


I hope they don't cut their kids hair!


Pay for it yourself and then you can have it trimmed however you want.


I tried that, they will still come in and do it. They will tell you that whoever you hire is not properly trained (no matter WHO you hire or who you tell them or even if you show them the name of the company and a paid invoice). They will then still butcher your tree to their specifications.


What a shame to trim a tree like that. The contractor should know better then to do something like that.


We had the same problem with Firelands. The contractor did come to the door and when I told him he was not going to touch the trees cause I had seen their work earlier, he told me was going to trim anyway. Once calling the sheriff was mentioned he backed off and agreed to send a rep out. Firelands ended up doing the work themselves but the trees have since died anyway from being topped. The rep also told us it was impossible to bury power lines under ground. So we told him to look at how it went from the pole to the house.

Yellow Snow

This happened at my father's house a few years ago. My brother got into it verbally with the tree hackers, yes, they too threatened to call the cops. They were illegals and bragged about the wages they got for doing this work. They make a very good wage. Why they felt they had to bring this up, I don't know. We were left with half a tree that now leaned 100% toward the house. We contacted the power company who offered no help in correcting this. For safety, my brother ended up taking the rest of the tree down himself, and digging the trunk out of the ground. A big job.


Our cable and electric lines are under ground. We can't have trees in the front yard.

nosey rosey

After our electric company butchered the heck out of our willow tree, I no longer let their contractor trim it. I gladly pay for a tree trimmer to come in and gently give it a good hair cut, then send the photos to the electric company and tell them that their contractor doesn't need to visit our house. They thank me for the information and I've never had an issue.


There is a difference between "trimming" a tree and "butchering" a tree. These trees were butchered!

2cents's picture

Why is there cable on River Rd when it is not even on all of the five lane wide commercial zoned RT 250?


Build out cost is too high. Its a long corridor with not enough business/residential customers to justify the price and pay for it. River road has enough residential housing to justify the build outs along its corridor.

1000' of Fiber build is about $8K.

2cents's picture

Business moving off RT250? Taxes or connectivity? The internet is essential for any business to function properly and that corridor will remain dead as long as companies do not see connectivity in a simple format. Just saying!


Well, I did find a solution to bad tree trimming. Last year I saw the tree trimming service getting close to my house I did not want a bad trim job on my bucheye tree out front. My neighbors trees look terrible. So as the crew arrived in my driveway I decided to go to the shooting range. As they were setting up their crane I loaded ammo and targets into the back of my truck in the driveway and watched as they trimmed with an AR-15 over my shoulder. I got a better trim job than if I paid for a tree trimming myself.


As usual automatic weapons solve all problems! Do you have any suggestions on how to handle the school board that keeps raising my property taxes?


an AR-15 is NOT an automatic weapon.


Oh, that is a shame! They look absolutely awful. I would be upset, too. I am not a real gun enthusiast, but I must say, not a bad idea by laker1 to protect the green buddies from getting assaulted with a chainsaw.


It's called an easement folks.. have to keep a safe direct route for all cables. phone/cable are aloud to used and piggyback on the easements of the power company. that's why you see in most cases all lines coming to the house in the same place. When running new lines or additional fiber lines to offer faster services and more services these companies need to be able to get to the line to lash up the new wires. Exactly how do you propose that happens if they cannot cut trees? This goes the same for the people who plant the bushes and trees and nonsense around the power/phone/cable boxes when the lines are underground. Does anyone realize that due to the rules of the easement you cannot plant that stuff there? and that these companies one day will enforce the easement and rip out all of these small bushes and small trees to they can access the equipment or even be able to locate the equipment? do some research on these regulations and easements before complaining about how your trees were trimmed.

Licorice Schtick

Your condescending comment makes some valid points, but not 100%. Not all easements are the same, not all are necessary, not everything that is allowed is fair and just, and property owners sometimes get unfair easements rammed down their throats.

There are case where people or cities plant trees right under utility lines. Bad idea, only OK if the lines are high and the mature height of the chosen tree is low.

It appears that the story is about a case where the trees were there first. I would take a bit of work to figure out if those cables needed to go exactly where they were put, but almost certainly, they could have been buried.

The standards for cable should be different than electric, and I double that the story is accurate in that regard. Six feet for cable can not be defended as necessary and is obviously about cutting cost.


How dare your trees interfere with my late night cinemax watching!!!! They are trees get over it!!!


Better check the laws. If arbor-culture is on Federal, State, County or Twp. property right of way; said arbor-culture is not yours.


Many years ago, my mother got a notice that her front yard spruce would have to be cut down. It was close to but under those very high wires (not local service) by about 5 feet. I called and raised a hell of a stink. Long story short, they simply topped it a little and it looks great to this day.


Why has no one, not even those of you posting, given out the names of the tree "trimming" companies? It may be a "public domain right-of-way" but with enough "public pressure right-of-voice" call to action...may change things for the better of everyone. ("They" have been in our yards too and hacked the _ell out of our trees. Understand I do understand the utilities point of view...HOWEVER...
a little common sense with some intelligence and a healthy dose of respect and courtesy...could change how "the System" works. You know...the "system" of bureaucracy vs. decent.)(The U.S.A. is still, kinda", a free country. If the correct price for burying cable is $8k per thousand feet...that equates into $8.00 per foot. Would it be possible for them to offer us the opportunity to self-pay for the re-routing of our lines? If so..I "might" entertain that thought for our trees, landscape and general peace of mind. On the other hand...you/they/we should also factor in and deduct the cost to the companies paying for the tree "trimming" service over a thirty-forty year period on a per tree basis. That would only be an equitable and fair factor.) (Does any of this readership have a professional figure of those costs "per tree"?)


The company that trimmed my trees was Penn Line. Hired by Toledo Edison to trim my trees in Gibsonburg Ohio.


That was pole to pole or pole to residential/commercial box, above ground. Burial is usually a bit more, depending on existing easements and utilities.


The tree trimming service utilized for the pictures above is Extreme Tree Service out of Toledo, contracted by Buckeye Cablesystem.


An final addendum to my previous thought of "self-pay"...that final figure could then be assessed to our bills and spread out over "X" period of time and if necessary...carried over to the next owner of the property. Does this or does it not make sense?


Same thing happened to us. We were having lunch when we heard something going on outside. We looked out the window and saw someone sawing a large limb out of a tree. The least they could do is inform you what they intend to do. Don't just go onto someones property and start chopping.


Rather than have these horrible looking trees in our front yards they should just take the whole tree down. That's what you need to demand. I'd say if you are going to take more of a few branchs than remove the whole tree. People should demand that the tree trimming company return and remove the rest of the trees when they have already cut 50%. I'll guarantee they'll be a little more careful in the future. Sometimes reverse pschology can bring better results.


Have you seen the tree sculptures at the OVH and elsewhere? It is the perfect solution for both sides. Granted, the huge old trees are beautiful, but times have changed, BOZE, and leaving something else that's a testament to the carver's gift, is better than wasting God's gift of nature.


AEP actually put "a notice of intent" on my door letting me know they were going to trim them. I called the number that they had listed and asked them to cut them down instead because I knew there would be no great look to them afterwards. I them picked up some dwarf trees and planted them.

I imagine that if the power lines came down from tree limbs in a storm that some of you would be complaining as well.


Public relations is everything to a company. In this case Buckeye Cablesystem hires a tree trimming company to prevent downed lines in case of a storm. The company does the job BUT in the process they use very poor customer relations skills in dealing with Buckeye Cablesystem customers in how they deal with their complaints. Who gets hurt???? Not the tree cutting company they are out of towners anyway they have no vested interest in this community for business.

This newspaper article is good proof that this PR is NOT good for Buckeye Cablesystem.

Answer.....Buckeye Cablesystem tells the tree cutting company deal with upset residents politely and refer them to us. You deal with them the opposite and we will no longer use your company to trim the trees.

Bottom line the ball here is in Buckeye Cablesystem's court....they can solve a PR probelm and work to keep good relations with customers OR they can just see more articles negative to them on the front page of the SR.

If I was head of Buckeye Cablesystem I would still get my lines clear of tree limbs that interupt service BUT !!!! I would make it cyrstal clear to the tree trimming company to clean up your act / attitude FAST or you will no longer have a contract with us.


reading signs,
A very good idea. I'd have them leave a sizable stump above ground and pay to have the stump sculptured to my liking.


Who taught these tree people how to properly trim trees? There is a proper way to trim trees called crown reduction. Electrical power lines require more intense trimming but cable TV and phone lines require less drastic trimming.

Besides crown reduction trimming, there is a proper way for "directional trimming" to help ensure the tree will stay healthy.

Looking at the butchered tree photos with the tops of the main leader of the trunk cut horizontally, future rot will set in. Hopefully the trees will not fall onto a person or vehicle in the road.

BTW, why do people top their trees instead of proper crown reduction methods? Topping of trees only encourages suckers to grow and the tree later looks like a large bush instead of a tree.


Come on, folks . . . you know this is all about Buckeye Cable saving costs, both current and future.

Current cost savings: Buckeye Cable wants the tree trimming to be done at the least cost possible to them, so they accept the lowest bid from a company who saves money by cutting, not trimming. Think of it this way: a Barber can do a buzz cut haircut in half the time as a regular trim. Same with cutting trees vs. trimming trees. Easier & faster to cut vs. trim.

Future cost savings: By having a tree company cut more than the minimum clearance length, Buckeye Cable helps to prolong the time until the next trimming, provided the tree survives the shock of the extreme cutting, and also the cut job increases the likelihood the tree will simply not recover, and no future cutting will then be needed or required as the tree will simply die.