Pleas for the trees Farragut residents hope LCUB will
reconsider its plans for power lines
By MATT LAKIN, email@example.com
September 23, 2006
Matt Hollingsworth climbs the tree every chance he gets.
It has stood beside the Farragut Greenway, just a few yards from the
9-year-old's home in the Holly Oaks subdivision, for as long as he can
remember. Of all the trees, it's his favorite.
In a few weeks, it could be gone.
Power lines run for miles along the length of the greenway - over,
beside and among the trees that Matt and his neighbors love. Nearly
every tree now bears a red dot or X, from the towering willows to the
The Lenoir City Utilities Board plans to cut most of the trees down in
the next 45 days. LCUB officials say it's the only way to ensure safety
and allow crews to install newer, sturdier poles and more-efficient
Residents say the plan means the death of the greenway and a slump for
their property values.
"You're talking about hundreds of trees," said Jim Hollingsworth, Matt's
father. "It's clear-cutting a swath for three and a half miles through
town. And it's a shame, because this is such a beautiful area."
Natural beauty fueled the growth of the Farragut area - the same growth
that's now put the trees in danger.
The Tennessee Valley Authority stretched the power lines in the 1960s,
when most of the Farragut subdivisions were still farmland. Now the
lines along the greenway carry electricity from the LCUB substation on
Watt Road to homes throughout Farragut and West Knox County - from the
Hollingsworth house in Holly Oaks to the Turkey Creek shopping center to
Baptist Hospital West on Parkside Drive.
Every month, an average of more than 100 customers hook up to the lines,
according to LCUB figures. Just last month, the utility picked up 132
new residential customers, along with 38 new businesses, said Fred
Nelson, LCUB general manager.
"There's no way around it," Nelson said. "We have to have the
electricity. Farragut is growing. This is the price of growth."
The ever-increasing demands on the 40-year-old lines have led to power
failures in recent months, he said. LCUB officials blame some of the
outages on mechanical problems but trace others to the trees.
"There's trees already burning in that line now," Nelson said. "If you
look at the tops, you can see where they've touched the line and burned.
Imagine if a kid were climbing that tree."
Residents say they understand the need for maintenance and safety.
They've offered to pay to have the trees trimmed. Some have suggested
putting the power lines underground. LCUB officials say those solutions
"It's not that we don't want the trees trimmed," said Righ O'Leary,
whose children play nearly every day under the two weeping willows in
his front yard. "We just don't want them cut down. They've been here for
the duration of that line. To come in here and just cut everything down
The utility has promised to meet with each homeowner before the cutting
begins to decide which trees can be saved. Matt still holds out hope for
his favorite tree, but he and his father wonder.
"I just don't see how all these trees are a danger," Jim Hollingsworth