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SE Kansas man claims Westar Energy didn't follow rules for cutti - KOAM TV 7

SE Kansas man claims Westar Energy didn't follow rules for cutting down trees; Westar investigating

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Picture of property before work Picture of property before work
Picture of property after work Picture of property after work
A Southeast Kansas man says Westar Energy went against rules by coming onto his property and cutting down trees.  The man says the trees never needed to be cut down.

Trees please John Oldham.

"These trees were part of this family for 58 years," says Oldham.

The trees on this property also offered Oldham some bread and butter.

"We do tree harvesting for a profit to us.  Basically, we've been denied that ability now," says Oldham.

Oldham says Westar Energy made the decision to cut down on his property, just outside Pittsburg, 22 walnut trees.  It resulted in a loss of $12,000 worth of wood that was supposed to be sold for furniture in China.

Pictures illustrate how the property looked before the trees were cut down, and then after.

Oldham says the trees were cut down without him knowing beforehand.

"Without my permission, it was a big shock," says Oldham.

According to Oldham, Westar said the trees were too close to power lines.  But Oldham says the trees were eight feet below the power lines, well below Westar's requirement of five feet.

Westar says the five feet requirement can vary.

'It can vary based on a variety of things.  The amount that we trim back on a tree might be affected by the species of the tree," says Westar Energy Corporate Communications Director Gina Penzig.

Oldham also says workers trespassed onto his property, 115 feet from the easement, to dump cut up wood.

In addition to all this, Oldham claims workers also ruined a barbed wire fence.

"I find this to be excessive," says Oldham.

Oldham says Westar claims before work was done, a note from Westar was placed on a home on his property.  But there is no home within sight.  There's just stumps and a stumped property owner.  
 
Officials at Westar are also looking for answer.

"My understanding is one of the things we're trying to work through and investigate on this end, is what type of notification, and whether we're sure it was received, as far as communicating with the homeowner, the land owner, before the work was completed," says  Penzig.

"If they had just been pruned, they would've still been in place," says Oldham.

Talks over what's next, including possible compensation, are ongoing between Oldham and Westar.  

Oldham says Westar wants to collect the trees workers cut down.  Oldham doesn't want to say what he will do next if Westar refuses to compensate him for the trees and fence.



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