Residents protest KU's removal of trees in Lansdowne neighborhood

KU tree protest.jpg
Posted at 12:17 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 17:20:46-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — If you don’t think altering the landscaping in a public setting can draw the ire of nearby residents, you missed this morning’s protest on Lansdowne Drive in Lexington.

One woman, Laura Zimmerman, was so disgusted she was arrested. Zimmerman was taken into custody while trying to prevent Kentucky Utility workers from doing their job.

Once she was arrested, crews began to chop down one of the trees as neighbors watched from the sidewalk.

KU has been talking for months about removing trees that present a threat to their power lines. Mayor Linda Gorton was hoping for a better solution, however, and was not at all pleased KU went forward with today’s work. She’s proud of Lexington’s status as a “Tree City USA” and is a big advocate of Lexington’s trees for not only their beauty but the practical service they provide in assisting with stormwater run-off and improving air quality.

But today, despite the vocal protests of many in the area, KU workers fired up the chainsaws and dozens of trees on the Lansdowne median were gone within a matter of minutes.

“This street is beautiful in April and May,” said resident, Roberta Erena. “KU told us what trees to plant. We planted these trees because they are never going to grow tall. They are never going to be a threat,” she said.

KU obviously felt otherwise.

“Where they (the power lines) are now is not where they may be if there’s a chance in the weather conditions, or a change in the load (they carry), so all of those factors come into play,” said KU spokesperson, Daniel Lowry.

Lowry also explained the advanced technology KU uses when determining when a tree might soon become a hazard to their power lines.

Mrs. Erena didn’t dispute their need to keep those lines, and everyone and everything under them, safe.

“We know KU has to protect these lines,” she said. “We know some trees have to come down. All we’re asking for is for them to answer our questions- to sit down with us and make some exceptions. Make exceptions for trees that aren’t a threat,” she continued.

KU feels the threat was present, or would soon be as Lowry explained, those lines can sway in the wind, or sag when hit with heavy snow, or ice.

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