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Dominion Power, VDOT and Trees

Penrose has an environmental committee and we are always looking for ways to save our trees. We have had ongoing concerns regarding the way Dominion Power prunes our trees, and also concerns about the way VDOT unnecessarily clears wooded areas.

Many homeowners are upset by the severity of the pruning. They would come home from work to find their trees sheared in half or pruned so badly that it could damage the trees. Poor pruning invites disease that can weaken or kill trees; and one-sided pruning to protect electrical wires can destabilize the weight load, making it easier for trees to topple over in strong winds or wet soils.

Alfonso Lopez has taken up the cause with us. His aide, Jason Stanford, was able to arrange a meeting with these parties on November 16th.  Both VDOT and Dominion sent officials from Richmond.  We had a tree steward, a master naturalist an urban forester, a representative from Department of Environmental Services (DES) from the county and representation from the Penrose Civic Assn. Here is a summary of what we learned.

VDOT has a new design/build liaison who tries to save trees before and during construction. Our Urban Forester, Vince Verweij asked VDOT to make the areas around the Columbia Pike bridge project no-mow areas to allow the area to re-forest over time and to plant only native trees in the area.  VDOT was very receptive to his suggestions. We hope these changes will bring in a new way of designing Northern Virginia infrastructure projects, but we need to keep applying pressure to keep them on the right path forward.

Dominion's primary concern are the costs of pruning and avoiding power failures. They have allocated 2 billion to underground power lines in Virginia. Dominion supports policies making it worthwhile for homeowners, multi-family dwellings and commercial interests to go solar. However, they are also in the process of applying for new routes for pipelines that would cut large swaths through national and state forests, cross streams and rivers to supply more energy to all of us. Dominion is regulated by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) and it is most helpful when they hear from Virginia residents. If you have concerns about any of their plans, don’t hesitate to contact your delegates, state senators and (SCC) https://www.scc.virginia.gov/

So what does this mean for Penrose? We need to keep applying pressure to both VDOT and Dominion to keep them from destroying our trees. Hopefully VDOT’s new approach will improve their tree retention. We did not get any assurances from Dominion Power, however, as mentioned above, don’t hesitate to report any concerns.

Terri Armao

Chair, Environmental Committee

By Terri Armao at 20 Dec 2015
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