CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Dozens of Centennial homeowners are upset after Xcel Energy cut down approximately 75 trees in their neighborhood.
The decades old trees were cut down along Dry Creek Road between Quebec and Holly streets. Crews also cut some in homeowners’ yards because Xcel says it was a safety hazard.
Some of the homeowners say Xcel destroyed their yards. One homeowner said there used to be seven Austrian pine trees that he planted 30 years ago. Now just stumps remain.
Xcel says it was necessary, but the homeowner says it was a travesty.
“This is people’s backyards,” Mill Creek Homes Association member Steve Wennerstrom said.
As each tree came down, the Centennial neighbors said goodbye to decades of watching them grow.
“The gentleman over there planted those trees 33 years ago when he moved into the house,” Wennerstrom said.
Wennerstrom said the loss of trees also opens up yards to Dry Creek Road and lowers property values.
“We understand that they don’t want us here,” Mark Stutz with Xcel Energy said.
Xcel says the reason the trees had to go is each of the 50 to 75 trees was below or near a transmission line.
“When these lines are fully loaded and turn 30,000 volts, they will tend to sink 10 to 12 feet,” Stutz said.
Stutz said contact between a tree and power line can lead to fire and power outages. He said they’ve been warning neighbors since 2009.
“It only takes one day with the vegetation not checked for us to have a very serious situation,” he said.
Homeowners say it’s a quick fix to save a buck at Mother Nature’s expense.
“They, I believe, in my personal opinion, wanted to avoid future maintenance costs,” Wennerstrom said.
Wennerstrom said that Xcel refused their offers to take tree maintenance under HOA or homeowner management. It’s something Xcel said just delays the problem.
“They have the right to do it, but we think it’s not being a good corporate citizen,” he said.
Xcel said in recent years federal regulations have strengthened standards for maintaining transmission lines after the northeast blackout of 2003, which affected more than 50 million people and was partly caused by an overgrown tree.