Q&A: JEA and Historic District Tree Canopy

Date: March 6th, 2014

Location: 210 W. 7th Street, Springfield Womans Club building

Jacksonville Electrical Authority (JEA) conducted a public Q&A meeting and presentation about their new and improved tree care standards for protecting mature tree canopies in Jacksonville historic districts.

Springfield Preservation & Revitalization (SPAR) represents one of two Historic Districts in the City of Jacksonville that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and that have local protections through Chapter 307, the Historic Preservation and Protection Ordinance Code. The City of Jacksonville protects not only the historic buildings within these two nationally recognized historic districts, but also protects many historic features, such as sidewalks, alleys, curbs, and yes, even trees. Our historic tree canopy is one of the major elements that attract people to our neighborhood and it also increases our property values.

 

When we were contacted by Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) in 2013 during their tree trimming cycle, they expressed concerns about JEA's tree canopy maintenance. SPAR confirmed that their concerns were not unique and offered to participate in a dialogue with JEA about improving their practices and addressing common concerns.  A meeting was held at JEA’s Southside Maintenance office on June 7, 2013. JEA’s Forestry Department,CEO, Vice President of Public Affairs, the contractor of Trees, Inc., Councilman Love and Councilman Lumb, as well as representatives from RAP, City Beautiful Jacksonville, SPAR, and Greenscape attended that meeting. JEA shared a lot of information about how they train and operate their trimming crews and neighborhood advocates asserted that there had to be a better way within the historic districts. The goal of the historic preservation organizations is maximizing the complete tree canopy to preserve a historic element within the district, to increase property values, and to encourage walking and biking by shading the sidewalks and streets. JEA’s primary goal is safety and reliability of the electric supply to their customers. Both are understandable and reasonable goals. After the meeting, CEO Paul McElroy reiterated the fact that JEA would work hard to find a harmonious solution to the neighborhoods’ tree trimming concerns.

 

Here's the specifics shared at the March, 7th, 2014 meeting:

Please note JEA trims in the Springfield historic district every 2.5 years.

Before:

  • Contractor notified by door hanger 3 days prior to trimming (office arborist number provided on hanger)
  • Contractor pulled the electric circuit maps per circuit
  • The Contractor General Foreman supervised the trimmers, periodically the area Forester inspected the work
  • At the end of the circuit work,  the forester rode the complete circuit inspecting for proper pruning/clearance. 
  • Engineering standard is to build to 26 kV standard (more clearance)  phasing out the 4 kV standard. 

 

After:

 

  • Contractors are already trained (supporting Tree Line Utility USA practices)
  • Contractors trained additionally for Historic District trimming immediately prior to trimming in Historic Area.
  • Cycle trimming will be based on "grid" approach rather than "circuit" approach.
  • General Foreman supervising area are certified arborists. 
  • General Foreman rides with area forester prior to cycle trim to discuss scope of project. 
  • If a limb/stub over 4” in diameter requires pruning (due to general tree health, clearance and/or proper pruning techniques), a certified arborist will verify/validate. 
  • Communication will be 5 days prior to trimming by door hanger.
  • Communication will include notification to Key Stakeholders
  • A certified arborist will remain in area while trimming.
  • A JEA representative/forester/arborist will also remain in area while trimming. 
  • Forestry will be included in design phase of all engineering projects. 
  • Standards for maintaining and replacing 4 kV will be developed. 
  • JEA demonstrated a very strong effort to seek out and encourage dialog with the community and will continue the dialog on a proactive basis.

 

Special thanks to the Springfield Improvement Association & Archives(SIAA) for allowing use of their building for the meeting on short notice.

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