Consumer Alert: RG&E contractor agrees to clean up debris field as long as 2 football fields after cutting down trees in neighborhood

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GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — Your home is likely your biggest investment. So imagine just how upset you would be if a company left two feet of debris strewn along two blocks in your neighborhood. That’s what residents of one senior community in Greece say RG&E’s contracted tree trimmers did in their neighborhood.

RG&E reserves the right to cut or prune trees and bushes near transmission lines. After all, trees are the leading cause of power interruptions. And the retirees in the Greece community of Kirkdale Villas all understand that. What they don’t understand is why tree trunks as long as 15 feet and branches stacked two feet deep were left 7 yards from their back doors.

Kirkdale Villas is a quaint, quiet condo community where retirees can be seen walking their dogs and chatting with each other while standing on manicured lawns.

“I would say 70 to 80 percent of us are over the age of 70, some even 90,” said Bob Leisenring, a Kirkdale Villas resident.

Leisenring takes care of landscaping for the neighborhood’s homeowners association and he and his neighbors are not at all happy about the unsightly debris field that fills the view from the windows in the back of their homes.

"You look down through here and the junk they left," said Leisenring, pointing at the branches and tree trunks that extended the length of two football fields. The debris is strewn just outside the property lines of their backyards.

"If I went into somebody’s backyard and did that, I’d be a vandal, but they’re a corporation," Leisenring said.

That corporation is RG&E. In December one of the company’s contractors started chopping down trees and bushes around transmission lines that run behind some homes in the senior community. Leisenring said when they finally came back in March, he says he thought, “Ah, nice. They’re going to clean up the mess!”

But that’s not what happened.

"They cut it all down, and they packed up their gear and drove away,” Leisenring recalled. “And I thought ‘No, this isn’t nice.’"

RG&E’s policy regarding tree clearing says, "During scheduled maintenance tree work in residential and landscaped areas, we chip and remove smaller branches less than six inches and cut larger ones into manageable lengths and leave onsite."

"There are logs 20 inches in diameter and 20 feet long. Not exactly manageable for people in their 70s and 80s,” said Leisenring, referencing the policy.

So I contacted RG&E and in days the company sent representatives to look at the debris and come up with a clean-up plan.

Leisenring said very nice people spoke to the neighbors and agreed to bring heavy machinery to break all this into small pieces and leave it there. They’re going to wait until next month when they hope the ground is drier and can support the weight of the machinery.

While RG&E’s contractor said they won’t cart away the debris, said the small pieces will be flat and look less unsightly.
Leisenring says he’s estatic. Right now mounds of sticks and twigs are piled 6 yards from his back door.

"We’re not asking for a miracle,” Leisenring said. "We’re just asking for a bit of a clean-up."

RG&E’s policy applies to residential areas, but residents of this community tell me that the company refused to clean up because the debris was just outside the resident’s property line. I asked the company about that and a spokesman did not answer my specific questions. Instead, spokesman Julio Saenz emailed the following statement:

“There are a variety of reason why debris may be left behind temporarily including ground conditions such as wet soil or emergencies like storms which may require crews to travel. If this is the case our crews are always scheduled to return and complete the work.”

If you have questions about tree trimming questions, you can contact RG&E by phone at 800-743-2110.