Tree Stumps Grow in Holmdel

Township officials and residents have expressed concern over the results of JCP&L's recent tree trimming.


No one wants to lose power during a storm from power lines felled by tree limbs. But striking a balance between aesthetics and the necessary maintenance of overgrown pines has proven to be a "knotty" problem, one that has come to the attention of both residents and township officials.

Overhanging limbs on South Holland Road, Crawfords Corner Road, Longstreet Road, and Holmdel Road have been receiving fairly aggressive pruning, leaving bare stumps 12 and 15 ft. high to form a ragged picket fence. Not everyone is pleased with the aftermath.

“JCP&L and its contractors started this project last fall, in part because of the heated response it received to power outages from Hurricane Irene,” said Andy Katz, Township Administrator.

“They're taking a somewhat aggressive approach," said Katz, “partly making up for deferred maintenance, and this makes the effect on long term mature trees even more noticeable.”

Katz stressed that the township has a good, ongoing relationship with the power company and effort is being made by both parties to take a more balanced approach.

“Be assured that the township is working with JCP&L to maintain an aesthetically pleasing and appropriate tree vista that doesn't leave so extreme an impact.”

For its part, JCP&L is aware that maintaining a natural look to tree-lined roads, especially in bucolic Holmdel, is a sensitive issue to residents.

“We understand the sensitivity,” said JCP&L spokesperson Ron Morano. “But trees and limbs are the leading cause of outages, and our concern is always to maintain safe and reliable service to our customers.”

At the same time, the health and aesthetics of trees is something JCP&L takes seriously.

“We have certified arborists who work with us,” said Morano, “and we work on vegetation management on a 4 year cycle. If trees are a danger or diseased, we remove them altogether.”

Morano noted that crews who'd been trimming back branches in Holmdel were called away mid-job to attend to tree and power line emergencies in neighboring towns after recent storms.

“Our crews will be coming back to clean things up and make it right,” he said.

Michael Nikolis August 10, 2012 at 11:16 AM
This hack job proves only one thing... JCP&L needs to hire more women or gay men..
Karen Kelly August 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM
JCP&L did a horrible job along all these roads, as well as Roberts Rd. It's actually distracting while you drive down these once beautiful tree lined streets. Any tree that has been cut more than 50% should be replaced by JCP&L.
Eve August 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I refuse to believe that removing over half of the mature tree's branches does not damage the tree... Sure, trim around the power lines, leave some wiggle room for growth. However, the recent tree mangling on Crawford's Corner and South Holland is inexcusable. I wonder if they are going to remove the tree stumps that they left sticking out of the ground, those are an eyesore. Beautiful pine trees on some other roads got hacked up pretty badly. I thought that we have a Shade Tree Committee in our town - are they involved with this effort? Is there a way for them to advise JCP&L tree contractors on what is appropriate to do in our town? The overpruned trees look ugly. The fact that the electric company did not maintain the trees for many years is not a reason to take overly aggressive approach now.
Holmdel Dem August 10, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I agree. These stumps look terrible. Shame on JCP&L for doing this to our wonderful town....they should be held responsible. It's one thing pruning a tree around the power lines, but the botch job that was done is an eyesore.
Christine Spigai August 10, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Patch, thanks for covering this. I was wondering if this bothered anyone else ... I cringe each time I drive by. It's more than unpleasing. It's a joke.
resident August 10, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Have some patience, these trees will soon sprout new branches and will be healthier from the pruning.
John Buechner August 10, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Maintaining balance between native trees and power lines is important. However in the case of JCP&L's recent trimming of trees along Crawford's Corner and South Holland road taking the trees down completely would have been a better choice. These trees have been severely damaged and will most likely die within a few years causing yet another dangerous situation.
Jeff Gollin August 10, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I understand a balance needs to be struck between protecting the grid and preserving aesthetics, but, (despite they say), JCPL went way overboard.. At the very least, the Township and JCPL should have issued a joint public statement explaining (a) what was done, (b) why it was done and (c) what we should expect looking forward (i.e. will the stumps, in fact, sprout new branches? And how long might that take - 6 months, a year, a decade)? I've seen JCPL's written explanation of why they won't bury more power lines (i.e. "too costly"; "cost of maintenance problems should something happen under the ground") but I'm not buying it yet. I'd like to see some specifics - i.e. How costly? What kind of maintenance problems? As a rule of thumb, what are the odds that there will be problems below the ground? etc. And what would be the relative cost-viability of selectively burying lines in high-risk areas - like, for example, the top of Telegraph Hill Rd, Phillips Park, the Arts Center and along the streets of the Hills and Estates developments?
Tammy Boyle August 10, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I was absolutely horrified when I turned the corner off Longstreet Road to find the mess left on Roberts Road (right behind by house, thank you very much) - If the township and JCP&L agreed to the pruning, I can understand. The power lines need to be clear of branches that could take them down - but to butcher these trees and leave an unsightly tangle of sumps, branches and leaves, that is unacceptable. Not only has the barrier between my backyard and Roberts Road been compromised, but what was left behind is a real eyesore for everyone traveling on Roberts Road. The township and JCP&L need to come up with a solution to this problem, and soon.
Sal August 10, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Hey___this is what happens when the LOWEST BIDDER gets the job of trimming trees for JCPL. Come on people__please do not tell me you really expect top quality "Professional" work when you choose the company that is going to do the job at the Lowest possible cost. All towns should require that those JCPL paid tree trimming companies pay a fee to the Town (similar to a Building Permit fee) to have a onsite township employee on hand to oversee their trimming. As a real estate taxpaying homeowner I need a township permit and approval to cut down a single tree on my own property, yet the town charges those trimming companies NOTHING and requires no permit__WHY?
Margaret Edwards August 10, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I too am glad that this has been addressed. The trees on South Holland are now leaning towards the street. Wait till the first heavy storm especially a heavy wet snow storm and see what will happen. Bradford pears are known to break easily. In the spring I used to see photographers taking pictures of the beautiful trees. I understand the need to prune the trees due to the wires, but a better job could have been done.
Sal August 10, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Forget the trees for a minute___Look at the freaking mess that New Jersey Natural Gas contractor Kelly did of ripping up Laurel Ave to lay new ng pipes and how lumpy and bumpy they left the street? While the Holmdel, Hazlet and County officials look the other way and do nothing and expect us local and county taxpayers to pay to repave the roads so companies like NJNG can come in and rip them up and walk away. How much did Holmdel charge NJNG and Kelly for a construction permit??? The town charge us resident for a permit to replace our roof or our sidewalk or our heating system__yet NJNG and Kelly likely did not pay one dime for a permit based upon the "Value" of the work they did either___but if you or I replaced the sewer line from our house to the street we would have to get approval and pay a construction permit fee.
JosephGhabourLaw August 10, 2012 at 02:44 PM
These trees will clearly die due to their being chopped up, no matter what one feels should have been the original plan. I hope somebody contacts the utility, and lets them know of the liability they have incurred, when the soon-to-be dead trees fall on powerlines (dropping them in the road), or fall on homes and/or motorists. 24 Ways to Kill a Tree -- of which I can easily find a handful in the Patch photos: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-210/430-210.html
resident August 10, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I disagree with your opinion that these trees will die. The strength of trees is in the roots. Thses trees will sprout new branches due to the severe pruning.
Nicole Elizabeth August 10, 2012 at 05:09 PM
So sad that the animals will no longer be able to house themselves in the trees and what an eye sore
Nathan Boulman August 10, 2012 at 05:11 PM
What a horrible butcher job. They were better off just cutting the trees completely down...better than looking at these eyesores that remain. How sad. JCP&L must be held accountable.
Martin B. Brilliant August 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I've seen how trees grow new branches after they've been topped. They look like shrubs on poles.
Martin B. Brilliant August 10, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I found nothing relevant on the First Energy website, but the SCE&G website had a publication with the following remarks: "... the frequency of outages on underground systems was 50% less than for overhead systems, but the average duration of an underground outage was 58% longer ... customers served by underground lines are usually among the last to have power restored ... The cost to build underground distribution lines is typically four to six times the cost of underground distribution lines ... Placing existing overhead lines underground is also an expensive proposition."
Christina Johnson (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 06:57 PM
JCP&L crews are back in town today, removing the remaining portions of trees that were trimmed along Crawford Corner Road, said spokesman Ron Morano on Friday afternoon. On Monday, they will do clean up the debris on Holmdel Road. "They were pulled off for storm work activity," he said. The trees that were cut down were located near transmission voltage lines and removed to state and federal standards, Morano said.
Bob Stevens August 10, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Sal, I agree, the gas company did a horrible job with the temporary patch. However, it is only temporary. I have found out from Hazlet PD that that Laurel Avenue will be repaved at the gas company's expense starting in September. They have to wait for the excavation to settle. Take a look at how they fixed the road by Vonage and Holmdel Park to see what they will do
Deannie August 10, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Yes, they sprout very quickly.The power lines were there before the plantings....in just about every location. We have seen much development during the years (I, as a resident for 52 yrs., and my husband longer having been born in Holmdel) The homeowners and developers need to consider the growth habits of these trees and shrubs at the time of planting. Also, set-backs regarding right of way along each road must be taken into account. I am grateful this is being done now rather than in emergency storm situations. These men and women risk their lives for our convenience and comfort in the most adverse weather conditions. We have taken down limbs and beautiful mature trees from our property as they can do severe damage to structures and pose tragic events regarding lives. I remember so well a young mother losing her life when a tree came down on her car on Holmdel Rd., near Van Brakle. Her toddler was unscathed. So let's not be so critical and complaining.
Deannie August 10, 2012 at 08:32 PM
PS to my above comment: How about the responsibility of the homeowner regarding the maintenance/trimming of trees. Also maybe keep your eye on the road a little more:)
Mischa August 20, 2012 at 04:43 PM
When JCPL sent a contractor to trim a tree on my property they literally cut off one half of the limbs leaving it a butchered mess. There is clearly no tree surgery or careful pruning to preserve the trees. I was so outraged that I walked to the truck and asked to speak to the supervisor and demanded that they rectify the problem since they ruined my beautiful tree. The only remedy was to remove my tree, which they did. No I'm no expert but in the 21st century I would think that there would be a move afoot to bury the wires/cables? It would certainly avoid a lot of the issues with downed wires and power outages and probably cut costs in the long run and beautify the towns.


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