HOA says Duke Energy chopped, not trimmed trees 
Neighbors warn it could happen in your backyard

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 6, Orlando

By Erik von Ancken

Published September 20, 2014

 Watch VIDEO


WINTER SPRINGS -- Many of the homeowners who live in the Winter Springs subdivision off Tuskawilla Road said they chose Arbor Glen because of what the name implies: beautiful, tree-lined streets and shaded and secluded backyards.


The Arbor Glen Homeowner's Association President said the HOA spent $20,000 over 20 years to plant and maintain the trees.

Last week, the neighbors said their subdivision was transformed for the worse in a matter of hours.

"I was devastated by it,” said HOA President Larry Bracco. “They used to trim the trees and now they just clear-cutted them and changed the whole entrance how it looks, the first impression of the neighborhood."


Progress Energy used to provide utility service to the area until Duke Energy recently took over.
For 20 years, the homeowners said Progress would regularly trim the trees under the power lines, never chopping them down. Duke Energy's policy is different.


“We understand the frustration from residents,” said Sterling Ivey, spokesperson for Duke Energy. “Customers along this transmission line were notified in advance of the tree removal as well as a conversation took place at the home of the Homeowners Association president on June 26. In addition, ASC Property Management Co. was notified on June 26 and on Aug. 27, one week prior to the trimming work beginning.”

Specifically, this information includes notice that trees that can grow to a mature height of over 12 feet will be removed."


Bracco and other homeowners told Local 6 they were notified that their trees would be trimmed, but not cut down.

"I saw it's a disgrace, honestly,” said neighbor Sheila Babb. “To trim the tree, yes. But to take the whole tree out and leave this like this?”

Babb pointed to landscaping and lighting that now surround bare stumps. Duke Energy said it would return later this week to grind down the stumps.

"Our privacy is gone, our shade is gone, our property values are going down let's face it when it looks like this,” said Babb.

"I was in tears when they come and cut here,” said Essam Shalaby when he saw the 4 large oak trees that had been removed from his backyard. "It is horrible! I mean you look to this backyard, you feel very angry!"

Duke Energy said all of the trees were removed from a right-of-way easement in backyards or from public streets.

“When it comes to trees, our two main concerns are public safety and reliability,” said Ivey. “We have an obligation to supply electricity to nearly 2 million households every day and delays to work on this transmission line could cause a significant wide spread outage and safety concerns. We have a comprehensive program to manage plants and trees around our lines and we do our best to strike the best possible balance between nature and providing reliable electricity.”