Power company cuts Howey-in-the-Hills oaks trees in half

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HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. —

The oak trees that line State Road 19 in Howey-in-the-Hills were originally part of a beautification project but Channel 9 found out a power company had to cut them all in half.

Officials said the trees were hacked down by Duke Energy so they don't touch the power lines, but many residents question whether it could have been avoided.

"I would consider myself a practical tree lover," homeowner Duane Gorgas said. "But there's also a need not to have them in certain places."

Gorgas, who was mayor of Howey-in-the-Hills when the trees were planted for a beautification project, understands why the power company needed to make drastic changes to the trees.

"Having been through a hurricane and been without power because a tree limb fell on the power line, I see there is a necessary reason," Gorgas said.

Town officials said the hack job was drastic because the power lines were moved further from the road a few years ago, bringing them closer to the trees.

Gorgas said he hopes people realize that the consequences could be a lot worse if a strong storm passed through.

"Everybody that would be affected would be screaming 'Why didn't you trim the trees,'" Gorgas said.

Town officials told WFTV there's not much they can do about the situation because Duke Energy has to maintain its power lines