Written by Larry Limpf
December 23, 2013
Woodville officials are planning a review of the village’s policies covering the maintenance and planting of trees, hoping to make residents more aware that while trees bring many benefits to a community they can also cause problems.
Keith Kruse, village administrator, said the utilities department has had to contend with trees planted along boulevards between sidewalks and street curbs in particular as they grow and block traffic signs, interfere with overhead electric lines, and their root systems burrow into water and sewer and gas lines.
Residents who purchase trees through the village tree commission are charged a fee of $50 for trees planted along boulevards and $100 for trees planted in their front or back yards. The village contracts with North Branch Nursery to have the trees planted. Typically, the village sponsors plantings in the spring and fall with about six to 12 trees being planted each time.
Kruse and Mayor Richard Harman said the policy review will include looking at possibly changing the fee structure to give more incentive to residents to purchase trees for their yards rather than boulevards.
Mayor Harman said North Branch does a “great job” before planting of contacting the Ohio Utilities Protection Service, a locating coordinator for utility companies, but, as trees mature, and their branches and roots grow, so do problems with signage being obstructed from the view of motorists and underground utility systems being clogged. Tree branches hanging so low over streets they are routinely hit by village maintenance vehicles as well as commercial trucks have also become prevalent.
“We’re not anti-tree. Not at all,” the mayor said, noting the village has received the Tree City USA designation for 22 years. “But at least once or twice a year we hear of a branch coming down and hitting a car.”
Ben Brien, utilities supervisor, said village crews have been spending more time trimming trees to clear space for electricity lines and make traffic signs more visible, as well as unclogging sewers – time that could be spent on other village work.
He said it’s not uncommon to see branches above streets that have been broken by delivery trucks, moving vans or other large vehicles. Even snow plows attempting to work close to curbs are hampered by branches.
“If residents see a crew working on trees along a street right-of-way we’re not doing it just because we’re bored,” Brien said. “We’re doing it because there is an issue that needs to be addressed.”
Easements and right-of-way regulations give the village the authority to go on private property to trim trees, including those planted along lot lines in back yards, he said.
Kruse said he plans to meet with administrators in other villages to see how their tree policies are implemented.
As a practice, the village has avoided “topping” trees to keep branches clear of electrical lines, Mayor Harman said.