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Beaufort City Council members will review the city's tree-pruning agreement with SCE&G at a workshop today and, as requested by numerous residents, discuss whether a new tree-maintenance policy is needed.
The conversation also could include suggestions for a long-term plan, such as trimming trees more often so cutting is less severe when it is performed or burying power lines in strategic areas, Mayor Billy Keyserling said.
"There could be many options," he said. "But nothing is on the table yet."
Beaufort's Tree Board also will review the pruning policy Wednesday. The citizen advisory group is not authorized to change the policy, only to make recommendations to city council, said Beaufort parks superintendent Eliza Hill.
Numerous residents called city officials when SCE&G began trimming trees along North Street, Bay Street, Ribaut Road and other corridors about two weeks ago. Some complained the preferred pruning method leaves trees looking disfigured or that contractors made the cuts incorrectly.
SCE&G halted all trimming soon after the complaints hearing and won't resume work until at least after Wednesday's meeting, SCE&G spokeswoman Patricia Freshwater said.
At Tuesday's meeting, Beaufort staff will compare its 1997 pruning agreement with SCE&G to the electric utility's recent actions, Keyserling said.
SCE&G is to trim every four years citywide and every two years in critical areas, according to the agreement. It also requires contractors to follow American National Standards Institute A300 tree-trimming standards. The ANSI A300 standards advocate natural, or directional, pruning, which entails cutting small limbs growing toward power lines back to their parent branch.
SCE&G trims trees near power lines every five years, following the ANSI standards, to prevent power loss and maintain the safety of its employees and the public, said David Tempel, district manager for the company. Tempel said the utility's five-year cycle is set and budgeted for at the state level by the Public Service Commission.