Greensboro’s tree advocate Randal Romie

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It would be hard to find a person who’s had more of an influence on the “green” in Greensboro than Randal Romie.

A professional landscape architect, Romie has volunteered with the nonprofit Greensboro Beautiful for more than 20 years. His first project with the organization was the effort to landscape the Interstate 40/Randleman Road and Elm-Eugene Street interchanges.

“So I was able to design some plans showing more trees, more shrubs, things that made sense,” Romie said. “DOT actually had some money put into it. And it was a great coordination between the state and the local citizens.”

Randal Romie (left) and Neill McNeill

Randal Romie (left) and Neill McNeill

In late 2012, Romie took special interest in the plight of people in Greensboro’s Westerwood Neighborhood who thought Duke Energy’s contractors had gotten “overly-aggressive” with the community’s trees that were encroaching power lines. Romie became heavily involved in the committee that helped the city develop is first tree-trimming ordinance.

“It gave power to the citizens,” he said. “So now you’re getting not just a door hangar (to let you know Duke Energy’s about to trim or remove trees near your property), but you’re being alerted, your whole neighborhood’s being alerted 60 days in advance and can come to a meeting and ask any kind of questions. Duke Energy will be there. The City of Greensboro will be there.”

But in the spring of 2014, the North Carolina Utilities Commission struck down key parts of the ordinance including city-wide trimming guidelines, a more frequent trimming requirement and a requirement that Duke Energy’s contractors remove downed trunks and branches from private property.

So Romie and Greensboro Beautiful are pushing the a new “Neighborwoods Right Plant, Right Tree” program which replaces trees Duke Energy contractors cut down on public rights of way.

“And nobody was offering that as an option. So hopefully someone would let go of their tree – -and I understand that’s a very hard thing to do — but they would let go of it and in doing that they get a new one.”

Recently, Greensboro Beautiful volunteers and others planted more than 100 new trees in the Westerwood and Southside neighborhoods as part of this program.

For more information on the program, visit greensborobeautiful.org/treeplantings/neighborwoods.php.

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