Public Utilities, Easements & Tree Trimming

The active hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005 drew renewed attention to the importance of keeping overhead utility lines free of vegetation. Main lines, feeder lines, local lines and service lines to individual residences were affected. Since then, the Village has worked closely with Florida Power and Light (FPL) to regularly trim vegetation under utility lines on public and private properties. Residents are notified when contractors will be in the area for this purpose.

Utility Easements on Residential Properties

Most of the single-family residential and duplex neighborhoods in the Village are served by above ground poles and lines that deliver electrical power, telephone, and cable television services.  Some of these lines are located along the front property lines (on Mashta Island, for example) but most run along rear property lines. The poles, transformers, and cabling are on one side of the property line.

FPL, our local electric service provider, has control over a 5 foot wide easement underneath these utility lines. FPL personnel can enter a property to trim vegetation or repair equipment. AT&T employees must also access this area to repair telephone lines; Comcast runs their cable equipment on the same system.

Trees and Power Lines

FPL advises customers who have utility easements not to plant trees, palms, or any plant material that can grow into or over the lines within this 5 foot corridor to help prevent power outages.  Plant material in yards on the other side of the property line also can grow into the lines and cause service outages. In 2006 FPL announced Storm Secure, a five-point program to strengthen the electric grid. Line clearing/vegetation management were one of the five aspects of proposed plan.

The Village is working to lessen the frequency of occurrence of power outages by

  • Strongly recommending that homeowners not install vegetation that could grow into the utility lines or break off and sever the lines in a high wind event
  • Urging property owners to plant appropriate trees near the easements that are of small to medium height at maturity and not weak-limbed. Suggestions for trees appropriate for South Florida are given in this February 2006 FPL brochure called "Guide to Trees and Power Lines" (PDF); tree companies certified by FPL to work around power lines are listed on the last page. 
  • Meeting with FPL to encourage a more proactive approach to FPL's tree-trimming program
  • Enacting Village Ordinance 2005-19 (page 8) in November 2005 that specifies how and when property owners should trim their trees near above ground utility systems to avoid outages

Contact information for all the utility companies serving the Village of Key Biscayne can be found here.




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