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EXCLUSIVE: Franklin Residents Upset About Tree Chopping - John Dunn

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FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Neighbors are outraged after trees that have stood for decades are chopped down. It happened in Franklin, and neighbors say the electric company is to blame.

People in the Chestnut Bend subdivision call it devastating. "It's obvious they started whacking them just straight across," says Chestnut Bend HOA President Mike Vaughn.

Tree trimmers from Middle Tennessee Electric showed up on Friday. In the past they have always trimmed the large trees that separate the neighborhood from Franklin High School, but this time they came to cut them down. "I know everybody in the neighborhood is sad about it because this was something we saw everyday driving into our neighborhood," says Vaughn.

After a few hours neighbors were able to get the work stopped, but for many trees it was too late. Residents posted signs showing their anger and frustration. The trees acted as a natural buffer between the school and the subdivision.

Middle Tennessee Electric's guidelines say if a tree is growing within 20 feet of a power line it needs to be cut down, from the ground to the sky. "80% of our power outages are from trees, so if we can eliminate that or even reduce that, than it improves the reliability that we have for our system and for all our members," says MTEMC spokesman Josh Clendenen.
 
The electric co-op says it is now strictly enforcing its 20 foot guideline, which means trees that were once trimmed are now being cut down. The co-op notified the property owner, Franklin High School, about the work, but the neighborhood association was not told.  "It allows us to go back and actually take a second look at those things and see if there is room to adjust," says Clendenen.

Neighbors want a resolution that doesn't end with a chainsaw. "We're not adversarial, we're concerned.  I would hate to see this happen to another neighborhood because I think it was a huge breakdown in communication," says resident Tony Graves.

Middle Tennessee Electric is now talking with neighborhood leaders in hopes of resolving this situation. The homeowner's association is also planning a meeting to discuss its options.

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