Questions raised over who is responsible for cutting ‘threatening’ trees in Guilford County

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Hundreds of trees littered roads and yards across the Piedmont Triad following the weekend’s wintry weather.

A mixture of freezing rain, heavy winds and a hard freeze overnight Saturday into Sunday caused several trees and branches to snap.

One of the hardest hit roads in Guilford County was Strawberry Road, which sits between Greensboro and Summerfield.

“This is worse than the hurricanes,” is how Don Wendelken described the amount of debris that had blocked the roads over the weekend.

He explained how neighbors had to cut through massive tree trunks to get out of their driveway. He and his neighbors told FOX8 crews that they had asked the county and Duke Energy to cut down trees that were on the verge of falling for several months.

FOX8 spoke with Duke Energy and Guilford County about the surveying process and how they decided on what trees to cut or trim.

Both the county and Duke Energy share the responsibility to maintain sections of the treeline along the road.

The county monitors the ditches and slopes off the edge of the road. The county will also trim branches from trees that sit a certain number of feet from the edge of the road. This number can vary depending on the road.

The electric company, however, has an easement with the county. They are allowed and are responsible for cutting certain branches and trees that pose a threat to their power lines. The electric company is restricted in which trees it can cut or trim that don’t sit on their easement.

When it comes to private property owners, both the city and the county will survey any trees that residents and neighbors express concern over. But, the homeowner, in most cases, cannot be forced to cut or trim any trees if it does not met the requirements laid out by the electric company or the county.

This means that the trees which fell during this weekend’s storms could have fallen because the property owner, the county, or the electric company did not survey them. Or, the trees did not pose a great threat when initially surveyed.

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