POSTED: Friday, February 25, 2011 - 12:40pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 11:09am
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) THIS IS AN NBC33 UPDATE: People living along Staring Lane are fighting a battle. We told you about several residents who were upset about the Green Light Plan to build a four-lane highways through their community.
"The voeters wanted four lanes and a turn lane," says resident Pete Territo. "They didn't vote to destroy our property, take our trees, and ruin our quality of life."
Territo has accepted the fact that some of his yard now belongs to the city, but he can't stomach the way tree cutting crews have damaged his property. "They've already taken 11 azaleas, three nandinas, and three oak trees," he says. "That's enough."
He says crews aren't being careful enough with what's left of his private property. "They came here like Attila the Hun clearing the swath."
Territo says their machines messed up his front yard and damaged plants that weren't bought by the city. "They drove through my yard and cuts into my yard. They ended up dropping some tree limbs on top of my azaleas that are on my side of the tape line."
The 43 million dollar widening project has others concerned as well, including District 12 Councilman RJ "Smokie" Bourgeois. "It's ten percent of the whole Green Light Plan," he says. "I'm wondering if all this is necessary."
Bourgeois is worried about the preservation of an old neighborhood, and more importantly the 150 year old foliage growing there. "It saddens me to see what is happening there," he says.
For Territo, the damage has already been done, but he still wants something better for his neighbors. "I've already lost this. I don't care what happens in front of that line, but there's a lot of good people who deserve better treatment than this."
He hopes they don't have to go through the same frustrations. "The city says because my house is 50 feet back, I have no damages. Look around. Does it look like I'm going to have any damages when this mess is finished."
NBC33 contacted Mayor Kip Holden's office. A spokesperson directed us to the Green Light Plan Project Manager. He issued the following statement regarding this particular situation:
"The tree removal for the Staring Lane project is actually being completed by the utilities companies as part of their role in relocating utilities in advance of the project’s construction (utility relocation is a highly necessary component to every project prior to the start of construction). While the Green Light Plan team has no direct control or management of the day-to-day operations of these companies, our team will continue to ask the utility companies to be more mindful of the safety to the public and the properties of private citizens. We encourage the public to submit complaints or issues as they arise via the Green Light Plan citizen feedback form (accessible at www.brgov.com/greenlight ) as they happen. At the point where we are advised of issues, we proceed to immediately communicate these concerns to the utility companies.
Again, we urge all citizens and businesses with complaints about construction to utilize the feedback form provided on the Green Light Plan website. We take each and every comment submitted with the utmost seriousness, and any concerns or questions directly related to utility relocation (including the removal of trees) are communicated directly to those companies."
We also recieved an statement from Entergy, the company that contracted the tree cutting company.
“The trees that Entergy contract crews have been trimming along Staring Lane are trees that are in the new road right-of-way. All of these trees will be removed by the city. Entergy is doing this work to make it safer for the city to remove the trees. Some of the trees are large and Entergy wants to make sure that their removal does not damage Entergy’s electrical system or affect service to our customers. This work requires the use of heavy equipment. We expect our contract crews to be cautious and avoid leaving ruts, branches or otherwise affect our customers’ property. If a customer’s property is damaged by an Entergy contract crew, Entergy will restore their property to its original condition. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we perform this necessary work”.