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Lexington Council Seeks Advance Notice Of KU Tree Removals

Stu Johnson

The Lexington City Council is offering advice for how Kentucky Utilities should conduct safety-based vegetation management.  The discussion during two different Council meetings Tuesday centered on concerns about tree removal near electric transmission lines. 

Council approved a resolution seeking a 30-day notice and meeting with the city arborist before trees are cut down.  The resolution also asks Mayor Linda Gorton to seek a zero-net-loss tree canopy plan in talking with KU executives.  Council Member Richard Moloney worries any additional costs would be passed on to Lexington customers. “Somebody is gonna have to pay for it and it’s gonna be, eventually, the city, the taxpayers, the residents of Fayette County that will pay for those trees.  After they tore down those nice trees, they got to turn around the pay for them again.  That’s my biggest concern,” said Moloney.

Council Member David Kloiber brought the issue before Council. He said the city has the authority to require Kentucky Utilities to bury electrical lines.  Kloiber says that’s not being sought now.  He hopes negotiations between the mayor and KU prove successful. Dave Barberie in the city’s law department said that could run into the billions of dollars.   Council Member Liz Sheehan said she’s heard from a number of residents.   “For my district, District Five, they are about to come through Lansdown Merrick Park and I have done a walk-through with them with our arborist present.  And the plan was to clear-cut hundreds of trees.  It is going to have a huge impact on our tree canopy,” noted Sheehan.

KU Spokesman Daniel Lowry noted the utility is in communication with city officials, individual customers, and neighborhood associations regarding their concerns.  Lowry added KU will review the Council resolution.

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