Judge gives Norman trees more time after initially being set for weekend removal

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Neighbors on a south Norman street took their fight to a courtroom on Friday after a utility company was set to remove trees by their homes.

“It was one of the motivating factors for buying that house,” said David Zittel, who lives along Berry Road.

These trees along Berry Road are special to many of the homeowners who live here. But with 17 trees set for removal, they’re hoping to stop the clock.

“Grant us more time to fully assess whether all the trees need to fully come out immediately or if they can be staged and replacement trees selected and put in,” Zittel said.

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative said the decades-old trees are growing too tall for the electrical lines nearby and have now become a danger.

“Not only do we not want the trees to come in contact with the powerlines, because that could electrocute people. We also now have trees that have become so damaged overtime, that if we were to have an ice storm or even a strong windstorm, these trees have become so unhealthy that the tree could fall, the limbs could fall,” said Autumn McMahon, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative.

OEC removed similar trees from the area back in 2017, thus, creating the city’s tree ordinance.

But Councilman Joe Carter said there were loopholes in the ordinance that need to be corrected. That’s why he’s asking a judge for more time.

“In 2017, when OEC took the 16 trees down, there has been nothing done to replace those trees with shorter trees,” Carter said while speaking with News 4 on the phone. “We’re gonna be really sad. We’re gonna lose a historic section of trees in Norman that will never be replaced.”

But the OEC argues it’s already given plenty of time.

“We have actually delayed this repeatedly. We have partnered with them on the tree ordinance. We have met every state regulation,” McMahon said.

On Friday afternoon, the judge decided to grant an injunction, delaying OEC’s plans to remove the trees. Councilman Carter said the topic is now on the agenda for the March oversight committee and should go to vote in April.

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