BWL to begin tree trimming in East Lansing, residents push back

Ken Sperber moved to East Lansing, in part, because of the trees.

"We chose to live in a neighborhood that has a lot of tree coverage, a sort of urban forest," says Sperber. "We want to keep it that way."

But the Lansing Board of Water and Light says it's necessary to trim some of those trees, and even cut some down to keep power lines, and people, safe.

"We understand that a lot of people love their trees," explains Stephen Serkaian of Lansing's BWL, "and we want to be able to explain to our customers why we trim trees, and how we trim trees."

If a tree needs to be trimmed, it will be marked with a blue dot and if it needs to be cut down it will be marked with two blue dots. Then, BWL will leave a door card that will have contact information.

Serkaian says this has to happen now because lines are being upgraded:

"We're converting our power system from a lower voltage system to a higher voltage system. The lower voltage system is over 50 years old and it's difficult to find replacement parts when those are needed. Also, a higher voltage system is safer, it's more reliable, and it's a lot easier to connect East Lansing customers with other substations when power goes down."

When it comes to trimming the trees to make that possible, people like Richard Crittenden and Sperber hope they can find a compromise with BWL.

"We feel very strongly about making sure that those trees remain in an appearance that people find will find attractive," states Crittenden.

"We think it's a balancing act between moderately trimming some of the branches so that we can have energy reliability but not destroying the urban overgrowth."

BWL says it's open to those conversations, as long as the necessary work is done.

That work won't cost homeowners anything. BWL will handle all the trimming and tree removal necessary.

The trimming will begin on Nov. 1 in the Chesterfield Hills and Bailey neighborhoods.