Peters homeowners file suit against FirstEnergy

Published Aug 20, 2014 at 11:13 am (Updated Aug 20, 2014 at 11:22 am)

At least seven homeowners in Peters Township are filing lawsuits against FirstEnergy over its plans to clear-cut trees on private property, which the utility company said is part of powerline and vegetation management.

“We will be filing for the seven homeowners between Aug. 19 and 20,” attorney William P. Bresnahan II said Aug. 19.

“These will be injunctions, asking a judge to determine that FirstEnergy does not have the right, based on the current easements along the properties, to cut down these trees,” Bresnahan said.

Bresnahan represents Don Rizer, one of the homeowners in Windermere, who has been the vocal leader of residents there, in the Stonehenge development and on Longvue Drive and Maple Lane.

“We have to file individual suits because each homeowner's situation is a little different,” Rizer said.

For Rizer, at 114 Windermere Court, several trees three- to five- feet high have been spray painted with red 'X's, indicating FirstEnergy's plans to chop them at the base.

“We're hoping to get more residents to file as this goes forward,” Rizer said.

Rizer had sought help from Peters Township council members and even offered to buy township property adjacent to his. But council president James Berquist said council couldn't authorize such purchases without a lengthy and unlikely bidding process. And time is not on the homeowners' side.

“We were told by the end of August these trees would be cut,” Rizer said.

“As soon as FirstEnergy gets hold of this suit they're going to try to get in there and cut these trees down,” Bresnahan said.

FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers said state regulations allow them to move in on properties with potentially problematic tree growth and cut vegetation that could touch powerlines within a decade.

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