Dunwoody resident Kim Masak is already mourning the probable loss of a 45-year-old dogwood tree from her backyard.

“I’m going to have to chain myself to this tree,” Masak said.

The first sign of trouble came when she discovered orange flags affixed to that and other trees last month. Then came a notice on her door from Georgia Power explaining that the utility needed to remove the foliage.

That tree, another dogwood, and about 20 holly bushes are among the vegetation in her Arden Woods neighborhood yard that grows on Georgia Power right-of-way. A new policy by the utility company states that any tree with the potential to grow 15 feet must come down so as not to interfere with power lines.

Carol Boatright, a spokesperson with Georgia Power, said in an email that the company’s policies must comply with state and federal regulations, which do change at times.

“Current North American Electric Reliability Corporation requirements, as directed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) mandate that utilities maintain adequate clearance around all applicable transmission lines, under all operating conditions, to prevent outages caused by vegetation,” the email stated.

“With this in mind, , we limit allowable vegetation for planting on the right of way to plants with a mature height of no taller than 15 feet, and inspect lines frequently to ensure compliance.”

Masak has sought help from the Dunwoody city officials, but it does not own the property on the right-of-way, and preservation groups, but says she is running out of options “in lieu of getting a rare bird to live there.” She says the foliage is home to owls, hawks and deer.

Boatright said that Georgia Power has a plan in place to notify and communicate clearly with customers, and that the company is also willing to work property owners to try and minimize any impact.

While Masak does think Georgia Power will spare a peach tree, she said she expects the other trees to come down in the next few weeks. They were slated to come down the weekend of Feb. 15, but the previous  week’s ice storm caused a delay

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.