UPDATE: Woman arrested during KU tree cutting protest speaks out

Mayor Linda Gorton says the City stands with activists in the Lansdowne neighborhood who protested Kentucky Utilities cutting down trees on Monday.

UPDATE: LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A woman who was arrested Monday during protests against KU is speaking out.

Laura Zimmerman said, “It was not a pleasant experience, but, you know, I think good trouble, just like John Lewis talks about it, is important and a few people against a corporation is a challenge.”

Zimmerman, a retired teacher, was charged with criminal trespassing Monday for refusing to move away from a tree KU planned to cut in her Lansdowne neighborhood. She was released without having to post a bond.

“Of course my mom worried about me, but she is proud of me,” she said. “And everybody is behind this belief that KU will not compromise and are taking down trees that are not interfering with the lines and will never interfere with the lines.”

She said her mind was clear as she stood firm in front of the tree, not taking a police officer’s directions to move.

“When you feel strongly about something, and have passion that you think things are not going like they should, that you should stand up for what you believe in,” Zimmerman stated. “And I believe that KU should have compromised with us and that did not happen.”

While KU plans to plant trees to replace the ones it is cutting, residents and Urban County Council members say it’s not enough, accusing the utility of being driven by greed.

“This issue is not just about trees,” said District 6 council member David Kloiber.  “What we’re seeing is an unchecked greed from a local monopoly at the expense of our residents.”

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UPDATE: LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Mayor, Linda Gorton, speaks out following a protest with around 2 dozen tree activists, that happened Monday afternoon in the median of Lansdowne Neighborhood.

“It’s my sense that this is one manifestation of how angry people are about what is being done and how it’s being done” said Mayor Gorton.

Mayor Linda Gorton says the City stands with activists in the Lansdowne neighborhood who protested Kentucky Utilities cutting down trees on Monday.

The mayor and city council have been asking k-u to hold off on clear cutting for quite some time…to find a solution that makes everyone happy.

“I want to say I am very disappointed in KU because of what they are doing today. Cutting down trees doesn’t reflect a compromise which I’ve asked them to do which is to look at trimming trees instead of whole cutting trees”

According to Mayor Gorton, Lexington has been a tree city USA for 33 years…and it’s something the city takes seriously.

“We are not like some of the rural areas in Kentucky where there are miles and miles of farms where it’s easy to clear cut and neighborhoods don’t notice, here is a different scenario.”

Mayor Gorton says KU’s actions Monday show that the company had no consideration for what the public thought or wanted.

She says the city will look into other options, including filing a complaint letter to the Public Service Commission, which overseas utilities.

Original Full Story Below.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A highly-debated issue in Lexington came to a head during a protest on Lansdowne Drive.

Neighborhoods, the mayor and the Urban County Council have all been critical of Kentucky Utilities’ tree cutting practices. KU said it’s necessary to keep limbs and trees from taking out power lines. Critics call it needless clear cutting and tree butchering – creating an eyesore, hurting property values and the environment.

Those concerns came to a head when two dozen people confronted KU tree cutters Monday on Lansdowne Drive.

“We asked them, if we could pay for the workers today, send them home, give us a week, answer our questions, or give us two weeks. And, this is what they opted to do,” said Diane Atchison, activist facilitator and Lansdowne Neighborhood Association Board Member. “They opted to cut the trees anyway.”

Lexington Police talked with protesters at length, trying to get them to move so a tree could be cut.

One woman who lives on Lansdowne Drive, Laura Zimmerman, was the last protester blocking the tree. Police said she was eventually arrested and cited for third degree Criminal Trespassing and released from jail without having to post a bond.

“We understand that we can’t save all of these trees,” stated Atchison. “But we think that we deserve to be heard.”

KU said it respects the protesters’ rights, but the project is needed to keep the community safe.

“What we are doing is for the safety and reliability of our system, and we are listening to folks and we do care about their concerns,” commented Daniel Lowry, Kentucky Utilities spokesperson. “I mean, we care about the trees like they do. And so what we’re doing is critical work.”

Activists said they aren’t done. They intend to ask the state Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, to step in.

“They’ve really followed their heart. They care about our city, they care about the trees, they understand what trees provide for us far beyond just shade,” Atchison said. “I just couldn’t be prouder of these group of people. They’re my people and I love them.”

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