Knightdale tree relocation to cost about $11,000

mhankerson@newsobserver.comOctober 18, 2013 

— The town’s Land Use Review Board and Town Council has OK’d a proposal to relocate and plant new trees around the town.

The initiative, meant to move trees out of the way of cable and phone lines, will cost the town about $11,000 in the 2014 fiscal year, said Planning Director Chris Hills.

According to information presented by planning technician Courtney Jenkins, there are 38 trees on the west side of First Avenue. The town wants to move those trees to supplement other trees in the I-540 corridor and replace them with smaller trees on First Avenue.

Jenkins said this would improve the town’s appearance to people coming and going through the town.

The trees that the planning department has indentified were just planted over the last year. At the same time, Duke Progress Energy was raising new phone and cable lines that hung lower than the town anticipated.

Having the trees interfere with the lines would also mean Duke would have the authority to trim the trees as the company sees fit.

Representatives from Duke did not return calls for comment as of press time. Hills said power and utility companies have the right to install lines where they want and the town will not be asking Duke to aid in the relocation of the trees.

The cherry trees on First Avenue are not fully matured and already reach the new cable and phone lines. The town’s report said when fully matured, the cherry trees could be up to 30 feet tall.

Town planners have suggested using crape myrtles instead, which are smaller than cherry trees even when they are fully grown.

The project is set to begin next month and will come out of this year’s budget.

Land Use Review Board member George Hess told planners he didn’t understand how this could have happened, and expressed his concern about undoing and redoing the work.

“I’m just hoping we don’t have to do this again because it’s like losing a year of projects and money,” Hess said.

At the meeting, planners said they don’t anticipate a situation like this happening again. They admitted the planning process for this specific tract of trees didn’t follow the typical process, but they intend to follow the process in the future to make sure this don’t happen again.

Town planners said the tree-planting project, completed in April, was meant to move quickly so it bypassed some of the preliminary planning steps.

Knightdale’s Tree Board was established as part of the town’s involvement in Tree City USA, an organization that supports community efforts to create and maintain areas with forestry.

To be part of Tree City USA, communities must have a tree board or department, celebrate Arbor Day and spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry.

With Knightdale’s continuing growth, the board also tries to minimize human impact on the town’s tree population. The board’s management plan is meant to expand an ‘urban forest,’ which fills appropriate space with trees and other plants.

Hills said the program is special, as not all towns focus on making sure roadways are aesthetically pleasing. The initiative also helps to raise property values in the town, he said.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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