Hundreds of trees hit the chipper to clear land for oil pipeline -

Hundreds of trees hit the chipper to clear land for oil pipeline

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- Crews are uprooting hundreds of trees to clear an old pipeline that runs right through a St. Charles County neighborhood.

The line runs 420 miles from Oklahoma into Wood River, Illinois, cutting through some backyards in St. Peters. Neighbors tell me that their property values are plummeting.

A path of poles mark a pipeline carrying crude oil three feet underground through 25 miles of St. Charles County. If trees are within the 60-foot easement owned by the oil company, they're winding up as a pile of dust. Consider this a warning to anyone living in the path of the pipeline.

The smell of chopped wood hangs fresh in the air over a deep ravine. Oil crews cut down and trimmed back dozens of trees, changing the landscape of this St. Peters subdivision.

"It's crazy that these houses are 30 years old and you're going in now, leveling trees that have been here for 30 years, you know it's just pathetic," Steve Gannon says.

Ground-down stumps show the treeline Brent Robinson lost on Thursday.

"When I bought the house it was established, and that was a big selling point on everything,": Robinson says. "We had a lot of privacy, and now it's nothing but open field."

The trees have clearly grown for decades, which has neighbors asking 'why now?'

Enbridge, which owns the pipeline, tells me it bought it in 2004 and that crews are playing catch up to bring the pipeline up to federal standards. That means keeping it clear.

"Part of our standard is to make sure that number one, we comply with federal standards that we can visually inspect the pipeline 26 times a year and secondly, to make sure we have good access to right-of-way in case of emergency and to perform maintenance," Larry Springer, Enbridge spokesperson, says.

A large swath of trees along Muegge Road is also slated to go, but the homeowner is putting up a fight for his privacy and property value. Neighbors say they feel helpless.

"They came in here on Saturday and told us that you're going to lose all of these trees and there's nothing you can do about it," Robinson says.

But some neighbors are trying. At least three lawsuits have surfaced asking to keep their trees or get paid to re-landscape.

Enbridge tells me that it's their easement and that they don't pay.

"Part of being a good neighbor is being a safe neighbor," Springer says.

Neighbors do agree that working with Enbridge representatives has been pleasant, although painful to watch mature trees topple. Some homeowners have said that Enbridge has even removed trees at the homeowners' requests, even if it wasn't slated for the chopping block.

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