Letter to the Editor: Grand Pecan Tree Destroyed

Last week, a grand pecan tree was destroyed along Muller Road at the edge of my property.  While there was brief communication between a workman marking the tree with red “CP” lettering, and an individual doing yard clean-up on my property who later told me what he encountered, there was no communication as to what governmental agency or perhaps utility company that was planning to cut down the healthy, majestic tree.  There was no effort made to contact the property owner.

I inquired with local and state governmental offices for over week, trying to find the source who intended to remove the tree.  Multiple agencies told me they were not involved or it went to voice messaging in which I provided my name, contact information, and stated my concern.  A number of calls were not returned or ignored.  I even contacted the offices of the local representatives for help.  The state Senator’s office for the area did not return the call.  The House Representative’s assistant did answer, expressed understanding, said she would inquire, but I did not hear back.  The requests, again, were to find direction to the source that marked the tree for destruction.  I wanted an explanation.

Fairfield Electric Company did respond to my inquiry, and a senior representative met me at the site before the tree was destroyed.  I learned the power company was not involved, and electrical lines were not running along that side of the road.  The power company did mention that the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Richland Maintenance Division, as a probable source to contact.  When the concern began, I had phoned the Richland SCDOT office and was told they were not currently doing road maintenance on Muller Road.  I left another voice message with SCDOT, Richland facility, with no reply, prior to the tree being destroyed.

I had put a sign on the tree to contact me before proceeding with any destruction.  That was ignored.  After the tree was fallen, I drove to the SCDOT, Richland Maintenance facility, on Fairfield Road, and spoke with personnel.  Indeed, it was a Contract Manager with Richland Maintenance that obliged in the cutting down of the tree.  The tree was cut, without cleanup, leaving the owner to deal with the mess and debris of the entire tree.

I was told by the SCDOT, Richland Contract’s Manager, that the tree was demolished due to complaint from a new property owner who constructed a driveway along my property line.  Incidentally, there is another pecan on that property, approximately the same distance from the road as mine was.  It was not harmed.

I understand potential road/roadside hazards, and that the county has so many feet to a right-of-way for maintenance.  However, this pecan tree was singled-out among many trees along Muller Road and other roads, equally or near equally, distance from the pavement.

What I found most disturbing was SCDOT’s failure to inform the property owner of their intent to demolish the tree, and the frustration in trying to make the right connections prior.  Explanations afterwards were received by persistent effort, but that did nothing for saving a stately pecan tree that had been around for generations, and probably as long as Muller Road existed.  It also is an indicator of what the State views as environmentally expendable, and the lack of courtesies afforded to a property owner.

Clay R. Kleckley, Ed.D.

Blythewood