Crape Myrtles along Skillman near Sprouts Market

If you shop at Sprouts or enjoy eating at the great restaurants in the Lake Highlands Town Center, you probably appreciate the center’s many beautiful trees. Since apartments were demolished on the site in 2008 and the center was built, planting new trees has been a promise kept by developers.

Ever noticed the placement of crape myrtles planted along Skillman and along Walnut Hill? Several are directly under – and already chafing against – power lines.

Oncor Electric Delivery, which often receives guff for the rough way they trim in yards and parks when trees have begun interfering with power lines, provides guidance on their website for planting trees to avoid interference with power transmission.

“A major cause of power outages is from trees contacting power lines,” explains the website. “The distance trees should be planted from overhead power distribution lines is determined by the tree’s height at maturity. Trees planted near transmission lines require greater clearance distance.”

No tree should be planted within 20 feet of overhead power lines, suggests Oncor, but if planting them simply cannot be avoided, specimens should be chosen to “require minimal pruning to assure public safety and reliable electric service.”

In March of 2017, a Lakewood woman climbed her tree on Westlake Avenue to prevent Oncor from cutting it down. She descended later when crews threatened to return with a restraining order. Seven years before, she had climbed another tree armed with a pellet gun to save it. Later that month another woman complained that the beautiful drive to her Parker County home was ruined by Oncor’s work.

“They’re ruining the landscape out here,” Katy Ehrhart told the Weatherford Star-Telegram. “They’re cutting 10 feet away from the power lines and I really think in general that’s too much.”

Oncor walks a tightrope between lopping off limbs of shade-producing trees that add value to the community, and preventing power outages during windy and icy weather. Fierce Lake Highlands storms in June of 2019 and the tornado which slashed through Dallas in October show the terrific inconvenience of extended power outages.

Leasing agents for the town center referred me to asset managers at First Washington Realty in the D.C. area when I asked about the trees. No one there has yet returned my call.

Guidelines from Oncor about planting trees near power lines

Crape Myrtles under the power lines along Walnut Hill