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Utility company offers to take down tree Chatham Co. woman says it made dangerous

CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) - A Chatham County woman fears a leaning tree on her property that’s been repeatedly cut back by power company contractors may end up falling on her house.

An ancient oak tree towers over Phyllis Rankin’s house, leaning at a precipitous angle over the roof of her 128-year-old home.

The tree has power lines near it on two sides, which is what concerns the owners of those wires. But, it's the way the tree has been cut back by contractors from Duke Power that has her concerned.

“I’m just disgusted. I’m not happy about this,” Rankin said.

It’s standard procedure for utility companies to have trees trimmed to make sure they don’t interfere with power lines. However, Rankin said she thinks the contractor for Duke Energy has gone too far.

“Now, there’s no branches. There’s limbs on one side. It is truly leaning too close to the house — too far in,” she said. “I’m afraid it will fall on my house very soon.”

Rankin told said that, when she bought the house four years ago, the tree used to lean some. She believes the continual cutting on one side has knocked the tree out of balance, and the weight of it all on one side is a danger to her.

“I’m extremely concerned and feel it’s just a matter of time before it does fall on the house,” she said.

CBS 17 tried contacting the contractor, but it went straight to voicemail. The mailbox was full..

Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said “we will address the issue,” and promised the utility will call Rankin and set up a time for an arborist to come out and look at the tree. He said Duke Energy “is concerned for her safety.“ 

Brooks said later Friday that Duke Energy was able to set up a meeting with Rankin and is offering to take the tree down.

"If the customer is amenable to this proposal, we will be scheduling a time to have it removed soon," Brooks said in an email.

Rankin believes the old tree will soon be gone. 

“I don’t see where we have any alternative but to have it taken down,” she said.

The two sides arranged to have it taken down next week.


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