Peters homeowners file suit against FirstEnergy

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


Attorney William P. Bresnahan II said the lawsuits would be filed today in Washington County Court.


“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 3 to 5 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 sought help from Peters Township Council 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 bidding process. 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 the company to move in on properties with potentially problematic tree growth and cut vegetation that could touch power lines within a decade.


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