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.