Duke Energy Progress won’t be allowed to take a tree from a Raleigh man’s property just yet.
The power company says a 44-foot willow tree on John Kane Jr.’s land endangers the transmission line that hangs 10 feet above it. Kane, founder of Race 13.1 and son of a prominent Raleigh developer, has refused to allow the utility onto his land, arguing that the problem could be solved with a trim instead.
On Thursday, a Wake County Superior Court judge denied the power company’s request for the court’s permission to cut down the tree.
The power company argues that a previous owner of the land granted an easement on Kane’s property at 1514 Brooks Ave., allowing the company to keep a 50-foot swath cleared of vegetation.
The company claims that wind or a natural sag in the power line could bring the limb in contact with the line.
Judge Bryan Collins ruled against Duke Energy Progress in the first round of the case, denying the company’s request for a preliminary injunction allowing it to cut the tree. The judge wrote in an order that the company hadn’t showed that the willow was a threat to the power line. Collins also wrote that the company hadn’t proved that it was likely to win the lawsuit.
The judge’s order does allow the company to use Kane’s property to access a tree on a neighbor’s land, which it will cut down with the neighbor’s permission.
Kane, meanwhile, is preparing to trim the willow on his land, he said.
“I want to make sure we’re going the extra mile to make sure that nobody’s at risk of losing power because of our tree,” he said. His goal in resisting the power company, he said, is to ensure it is respectful of its customers and their land.
Duke Energy Progress was reviewing the judge’s order on Thursday, according to spokesman Jeff Brooks. But the company still has the same goal, he said.
“We will continue to pursue removal of the tree at this location as the appropriate long-term solution, as allowed under our easement agreement for this property,” he wrote in an email.