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Power line company to ax First Avenue trees PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:19

ATC agrees to reduce number of trees it will cut to 37, but village not pleased with having to replace them

    As ash trees are being chopped down in Ozaukee County as a result of the emerald ash borer, the Village of Grafton will also have to cut into a number of its other trees to accommodate more space for power lines.
    In February, American Transmission Company marked all of the trees on the boulevard of First Avenue underneath the transmission lines for removal.
    The company owns and operates a double-circuit line in the village that runs north to south along the boulevard of First Avenue between Rose Street and Wisconsin Avenue. The 1.6-mile corridor has approximately 130 trees in the 40-foot easement on village-owned property.
    According to American Transmission Company, 83 trees are incompatible with the wire zone of the easement.
    After the trees were marked last year, the village immediately contacted the company to find a way to keep the trees.
    “Their requirements are to have an eight-foot maximum for mature trees underneath their lines and 15 feet for trees outside of the lines in their easement,” Amber Thomas, director of public works for the village, said during a public works meeting on Monday, Nov. 13.
    Thomas said most of the trees planted on First Avenue are crabapples that were planted on purpose because they wouldn’t exceed the height of the lines.
    According to a report from American Transmission Company, it has reduced the number of trees it wants to take down from 83 to 37.
    “That’s totally better from where we started, but we’re looking at taking down roughly a quarter of the trees that are there,” Thomas said.
    Thomas said there might also be a discrepancy in the easement documents between the village and the company, which could impact a number of trees that are more than 40 feet tall. She has requested that the Village Board ask American Transmission Company show which easements cover the different areas.
    “The documents are dated to the 1920s and are very rough scans, which make them difficult to read,” she said. “There’s really no way to match up the different easement documents with what portion of the street they are referring to.”
    Another point of concern for the village is that the company said it will not remove any stumps.
    “I don’t see why the village should take in any costs for something they are imposing,” Thomas said, noting she has requested the Village Board ask American Transmission Company to cover the costs of removing the stumps.
    This fall, the village applied for a $5,000 grant from American Transmission Company to help cover the cost to replace the trees, but the company is only awarding the village $1,500. Thomas said the amount was lower because the village will not be replacing as many trees as initially expected.
    According to company’s plans, it could return within the next five years to remove more trees.
    “It’s just 37 trees for now, but we’ll see what happens next time,” Thomas said.
    She also said she would like to have American Transmission Company hold a public information session for village residents.
    “I’ve gotten a lot calls from residents over the months concerned about what they’re going to do. I think it’s important for the residents to hear what their plans are and to give feedback,” Thomas said.

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