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Peters Township Homeowners Object to Tree Trimming By FirstEnergy

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Plans by FirstEnergy to trim trees along a transmission line in Peters Township has drawn the ire of homeowners.

The homeowners have offered a compromise, but it is unlikely it will be accepted.

Windermere Estates is a well-to-do housing development in Peters Township, where trees tend to hide FirstEnergy’s transmission lines that run right through it. Now the energy giant has told residents here those trees must come down all the way to their stumps.

“It’s going to be just dead trees cut in place and left there,” resident Don Rizer said, “and then herbicide sprayed to kill any of the other growth.”

FirstEnergy and its subsidiary West Penn Power aim to level any tree they say poses a threat to the lines along the seven-mile stretch of land, which means any tree that has the potential of growing more than 10 feet. There are approximately 400 trees in all.

“We need to make sure that there’s safe, reliable electricity,” Todd Meyers of FirstEnergy said. “Trees are the number one cause of outages, and in a transmission line, there’s no place for incompatible vegetation growing beneath.”

The order means that resident Gina Ciminel will lose her four spruce and three pear trees.

“They keep my kids from falling over a hill, keep my hill from falling down,” Ciminel said. “It’s not only pretty, but they serve a function for me, personally.”

FirstEnergy has rejected the residents’ offers to keep their trees trimmed.

“It’s just very frustrating that we can’t get FirstEnergy to at least move a little bit off a very aggressive approach that they’ve never used before,” Rizer said. “It makes no sense to us as homeowners.”

FirstEnergy insists that there can be no compromise.

“There can be no compromise because there are customers throughout this area that depend on the electricity,” Meyers responded.

Residents say the removal of these trees will leave a scar that will not be healed.

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