Residents Concerned Over SCE&G Plans to Cut Back Historic Trees in a James Island Neighborhood

April 20, 2017, 10:08 am EST | Share:

JAMES ISLAND, SC (BILL BURR, WTAT-TV) — Neighbors in historic James Island neighborhood are concerned about a new plan to cut back trees that have taken hundreds of years to develop.

Wappoo Drive is a designated scenic road on James Island where historic sounds fill the air while a canvas of Lowcountry landscape covers the street.

“The people on James Island are very proud of Wappoo Drive,” said Deborah Saari who has lived in Riverland Terrace for decades. She has concerns about a project by SCE&G to upgrade electrical service.

The plans call for historic trees to be trimmed. The utility company says the electrical system that supplies power to more than 600 homes in the area is more than 70 years old and that is why it needs to be upgraded.

“If they would have somebody who knew what they were doing, and they would look at it as say ‘alright, we’ll cut this one back, but we’ll leave this one and we’re not just going to hack it’, she said.

SCE&G officials promise to use certified arborists to carefully navigate the tedious work of trimming trees while new power lines are installed.

Still, neighbors think progress shouldn’t include pruning the picturesque greenery. “They should be able to go to this tree, that tree, that tree, and say ‘ok this is what we’re going to do, this is what it’s gonna look like, here’s the up close view, here’s the distant view,'” said Michael Keating, a resident of Riverland Terrace.

Kathleen Lancaster says it should be protected if it isn’t. “There should be some status that certain places have that you can’t chop them up.”

Other trees have lost the battle with utility crews. Now, another debate could determine the fate of this old foliage.

Some people wonder if SCE&G could bury the new power lines, but utility officials say it would cost $4,000,000 – which is too expensive.

SCE&G will hold a public hearing Thursday from 5:30pm until 7:00pm at James Island Baptist Church on Wappoo Drive where they’ll explain the project and answer questions.