By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The City Council discussed proposed changes to the city’s tree trimming, cutting and planting ordinance during a May 9 study session with Department of Public Works Assistant Supt. Brian Martin.
The city’s current policy makes it nearly impossible to remove healthy trees which may be causing sidewalks and driveways to buckle and crack, causing trip hazards. Even tree limb trimming policies were considered excessively stringent by some residents.
In addition, the city’s tree replacement policies were considered by some to be expensive and punitive, often requiring multiple trees to be planted for each tree removed.
The May 9 study session, held prior to the council meeting, looked at the city’s options, and no changes have yet been implemented.
A hot button issue in the past has occurred when requests to remove healthy trees, especially those with falling limbs from causes other than storm events, have been denied.
Requests must be verified by Citizen Request for Action complaints, insurance claims and documentation of branches overhanging and touching structures.
Also, when live tree roots cause the heaving of sidewalks, driveways, approaches and other paved surfaces, creating trip hazards and property damage, not all tree removals have been approved in the past.
In proposed new wording, replacement tree plantings will be required, subject to city guidelines and an approved list of trees, in spaces approved by city officials, and in conjunction with an experienced and insured landscaping contractor.
Another option being considered would be to allow property owners to deposit money into the city’s tree replacement fund for future plantings.
Any requests for tree removals must include a permit application by an experienced, licensed and insured tree cutting professional. A cash restoration bond would be required to ensure stump and root removal, as well as lawn and pavement restoration.
The number of replacement trees required when a tree is removed will be based on the diameter of the tree being removed. For example, a tree with a diameter exceeding 25 inches might require 10 replacement trees at a $6,000 cost, while a 6-inch diameter tree removal might require the replacement of one tree at a $600 cost.
City officials are disinclined to remove healthy trees because a resident does not like the species, because they supposedly block a view or obscure architectural features in a nearby dwelling, or because of the leaves, seeds or twigs which the tree sheds. Healthy trees which cause excessive shade also may not qualify for removal.
The obscuring of traffic signals, stop signs and pedestrian traffic may pose legitimate reasons for limb or tree removal, especially when public safety is impacted.
City officials will provide opportunity for public input and comments before any tree ordinance changes are implemented.