Lake Saint Louis residents fight back against tree cutting plans

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Kelly Lee loves the trees outside her Lake Saint Louis home. They add beauty and help dampen the noise from nearby Ronald Reagan Drive. But the trees have been marked with orange ties to be cut down.

“I’m very attached to my trees, that was one of the first investments I made when I moved in,” said Lee.

It’s a similar situation across the street at Lloyd Holzmeyer’s home.

“There’s no way these trees will ever interfere with these lines,” said Holzmeyer, who had several trees in his backyard marked.

Both live near power lines owned by Central Electric Power Cooperative. The company says the trees are in its right of way and must come down. Some have already been cut.

Lee is aware there’s an easement and doesn’t want any tree to fall on a power line. But the problem comes down to distance.

The Lee family’s electric company is Cuivre River Electric, which is part of Central Electric’s COOP.

On Cuivre River’s website, there is a planting guide that clearly shows no trees are allowed within 30 feet of the lines, which is what Kelly Lee abided by.

But Central Electric says its right of way is 50 feet on either side of the lines. Lee says that policy isn’t listed on the website.

“The vegetation management policy, where is it?” she continues to ask.

She says her advice to homeowners is to do their homework before planting, but she did. That’s where the frustration lies.

At the Holzmeyer’s, they argue their trees are not even in the easement and therefore shouldn’t be cut.

Both families have invested a lot of money in their landscaping.

Central Electric has communicated with the homeowners about the policy. One email reads: Generally, Central has no objection to vegetation that cannot grow to (or above) 12′ in height at maturity on our transmission line Rights-Of-Way, but we do object to vegetation that can grow over 12′. Any vegetation that we can confirm be of the sub 12′ variety, we would do our very best to leave.”

The company’s Right of Way coordinator said the trees could be moved. But that can be pricy.

Lee says she just wants the information accessible and clear so others don’t go through a similar situation. Since News 4 started making calls, both Lee and Holzmeyer received emails from Central Electric. They said they would have a surveyor check the Holzmeyer’s property and have their legal counsel review their clearing rights.

“I hope they will just back off and realize I don’t pose any threat to them,” said Holzmeyer.