Rep. David Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) on Thursday called for a summer study committee to look into the tree-cutting activities by local utilities, such as the Northern Indiana Public Service Company. The measure, contained within Senate Bill 43, was approved unanimously by the House Thursday evening.
"I am concerned about the lack of oversight for utilities engaging in tree-trimming activities," said Rep. Wolkins. "Some of the cutting that has occurred in our area has shown a lack of respect for the rights of homeowners. I am eager to research what sort of regulations can be put in place to protect our trees and yards from overzealous trimmers."
Winona Lake's town council has expressed concern over NIPSCO's tree-trimming activities. Some trees had been hacked down to an unreasonable height, while many others were cut without the owner's knowledge or permission.
"I would like to see if the state can require utilities to notify residents before wholesale trimming or cutting commences on their land," Rep. Wolkins said. "I believe property owners have a right to know what sort of work will be done on their property, and I want to give owners the right to contest proposed cutting activities."
In the event of a property owner contesting tree-trimming on their land, Rep. Wolkins is proposing that a neutral third party look into the matter to decide if the trimming is necessary for the continued safe delivery of electricity and other utilities.