‘Better Call Behnken’ gets results for Curlew Road residents

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Residents who live off of Curlew Road turned to 8 On Your Side in December, after Duke Energy scalped trees and shrubs near their homes, destroying their views and noise buffer.

The land is owned by Pinellas County and Duke as a utility easement and the right to do whatever they need to in order to protect power lines. Typically, this involved trimming trees every few years, but someone working for Duke decided to go overboard this time.

Five months later, things look much differently on Curlew Road. There are freshly planted shrubs and small trees. Although not legally required, Duke Energy decided, after questions from 8 On Your Side, to partner with Pinellas County to plant trees and make residents a little happier.

“At first they weren’t willing to bend at all, but they did and we’re excited,” said Frank Coppola, who lives near the road and was devastated by the clearing.

The property is owned by the county and duke has a utility easement, meaning this flattening was perfectly legal, and residents weren’t entitled to anything.

Duke sent this statement:

“Because the location was ideally suited for a pollinator habitat project and provided an opportunity to demonstrate appropriate plantings in power line easements, we partnered with the county to plant power line appropriate vegetation creating a habitat for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.”

Of course, residents would rather have their fully-grown trees back, but this is a step in the right direction.

“It looks much better, and as these trees and shrubs grow, it will slowly offer a noise buffer again,” Coppola said.

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