Cutting Back Historic Trees For Utility Upgrades

May 17, 2017, 10:38 am EST | Share:

JAMES ISLAND, SC (ALEX HEATON, WTAT-TV) — Imaging your power company needs to update its system that is 7 decades old. But in order to do so, it will need to cut down some of Charleston’s most prized possessions. That’s exactly what could happen in one James Island neighborhood. Now, leaders are meeting to try and find another option.

Sun shining through the branches of majestic trees, it’s what people wake up to in Riverland Terrace.

“The trees are absolutely beautiful,” said a neighbor.

It’s what they walk under, creating the perfect morning stroll like they have for Kate Tackets. “I come over here to walk everyday. The trees provide a perfect canopy for me. I’ve had skin issues so I get out early and I like to walk in the shade.”

She cherishes the century old oaks that line Wappoo Drive; a designated scenic byway giving a glimpse into a perfectly preserved part of the Lowcountry.

But this historic charm almost cut down. “I think they’re fabulous and so characteristic of Charleston and I think that it’s criminal to even consider taking them down,” she said,

SCE&G plans to trim the trees in order to update the neighborhood’s 70-year-old electrical system. A plan that raised a red flag and a yellow ribbon throughout the community.

The power company says burying the lines would be too costly, a $4,000,000 project. But this neighborhood banded together to show you can’t put a price on preserving history.

“They are a beautiful monument to what Charleston stands for.”

SCE&G representatives have agreed to meet with local and state leaders, as well as arborists to find another way, giving this community hope for its history.

“It’s really the first time that anybody has brought together this group, this collective knowledge, in potential influence to do something like this,” said Charleston County Councilman Joe Qualey.

The meeting will be held at 3:30pm Wednesday at the Lonnie Hamilton Service Building in North Charleston.

Councilman Qualey said his goal is to settle on an alternative and then determine how it will be funded.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg also wrote a letter to SCE&G to express his concerns over the tree trimming. He asked the company to do everything possible to find an alternative.