KU agrees to temporarily halt tree cutting until January as it negotiates with Lexington

·2 min read
Ryan C. Hermens/rhermens@herald-leader.com

A day after the Lexington-Fayette Urban County government filed a lawsuit asking a Fayette Circuit Court judge to issue a temporary injunction barring Kentucky Utilities form clear-cutting trees under transmission lines, the two sides announced a truce.

Kentucky Utilities agreed to a temporary moratorium on all tree cutting until mid-January. In exchange, the city has agreed not to pursue its temporary injunction in the courts so the two sides have time to negotiate, according to city officials.

KU also agreed Wednesday morning only to cut the tallest trees and those closest to the transmission lines on Lansdowne median. There have been two protests over the cutting of those trees this week.

“I appreciate KU for listening yesterday, for extending the moratorium on cutting, and for agreeing to continue negotiations on an appropriate process that preserves our electrical grid and protects our trees going forward. I remain convinced that we can do both, and hope that this gives us an opportunity to find a new path,” said Mayor Linda Gorton.

The city is not dismissing its lawsuit filed in Fayette Circuit Court, the city said.

“The motion to stop the tree-cutting will not be withdrawn,” Gorton said. “ We can proceed with court action if necessary, and so can KU.”

In addition, KU and the city agreed that:

  • KU will perform the replanting it has already agreed to in the Lansdowne median.

  • KU will continue its vegetative management work on Richmond Road, as planned, and based on prior agreements with private residents in the area.

  • ·The city anticipates KU will honor previous commitments regarding replanting and beautification it has made in other neighborhoods.

The city and KU have been at odds for more than a year over the utility’s policy of axing trees taller than 15 feet under major transmission lines. KU says its necessary to maintain the electric grid. City officials and neighborhoods say the utility is cutting trees that are not near power lines. KU has said its new policy has resulted in fewer service disruptions and is necessary to maintain the city’s power grid and for the safety of its employees.

Lexington sues KU in court. It wants judge to order utility to stop clear-cutting trees

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