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City Chops Down Resident's Tree, Much to his Surprise

Port resident is hopeful the city will consider notifying homeowners when it plans to remove a tree from their property after his ash was cut down without his prior knowledge.

A Port Washington homeowner is hopeful that the city will change its ways when it comes to tree removal after a tree on his property was cut down without his prior knowledge.

Richard Thompson, who lives on Parknoll Lane, returned home last week to find just a stump remaining of the healthy ash tree that once welcomed him home.

"I planted both of these trees when we built our home 29 years ago," he told the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday night. "We valued these trees and took additional steps to hire a arborist to keep these trees healthy."

Thompson said his first thought was that it may have been infested with emerald ash borer; officials confirmed that EAB was found in the city on June 15. Thompson called the city to find out the reason for the tree removal, and was told it was "in decline," with no further explanation.

"I would have been glad to pay for some treatment to keep the tree, as I've done in the past," he told the council.

City arborist Jon Crain said the tree was actually removed to save the larger ash tree on the same lot, according to an Ozaukee Press article. The larger tree is infected by the emerald ash borer, and the extra space will increase its chance at survival.

Thought it's too late to save the healthy ash tree that was removed from Thompson's yard, he told the council he hopes they'd support adding a process to notify homeowners before taking such actions on their property.

Aldermen said they would refer the matter of notifying homeowners to the Board of Public works, the Ozaukee Press article said.

"I can't get my tree back but perhaps yours can be saved," he said. 

Rik Kluessendorf January 24, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Mr. Thompson, your restraint in this has earned a huge measure of respect from me. I'm not sure that I would have remained as calm were I in your position.
Greg January 24, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Trees located in the parkway are public property. The city does not necessarily know who planted the tree and it really doesn't matter. The city could have a process for notification, but it should be just that, notification. If there has to be an entire process for the city to touch any tree on public property, nothing will get done.
Tom Kamenick January 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Where does it say the tree was in the parkway? And is there a legal difference between a tree the city planted in the parkway and one the property owner planted?
Lyssa Beyer (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 02:15 PM
The tree was in the parkway, it was the one in the photo. I do not know the legal difference between those two questions, but the homeowner did say he planted those.
Vic January 25, 2013 at 04:00 PM
So, it wasn't on the homeowners property?
Lyssa Beyer (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 04:06 PM
I left a voicemail with the City Administrator to find out whether parkways are considered city or homeowner property in Port, as I am not 100 percent clear what the "legal" answer would be ... but the homeowner planted the trees, and spent money on them — and I think most people consider parkways "there's" ... so there's that much, at least. I'll let you know officially when I hear back.
Lyssa Beyer (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 04:41 PM
The city administrator said that it is actually city property, and normally the city would plant there; this homeowner had planted those trees 29 years ago, however, probably when the area looked a lot different, I'd guess.
Greg January 25, 2013 at 05:06 PM
It does not say it was, I looked at the picture and saw a stump, with saw dust, located between the curb and city sidewalk. In most cases there is no legal difference, plantings in a parkway or right-of-way become public property. I don't know how the city would know who planted a tree three decades earlier. Should it be listed on the deed, so a new home owner knows that they are responsible for a tree that was planted by a previous owner? Should the person that planted the tree have say over the tree even after they move?
Ang ~ January 25, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Who's responsible for cutting the grass around the tree that was cut down? I can guarantee it wasn't the city!! Who pays for the replacement & shoveling of sidewalks in front of homeowners properties? I can guarantee its not the city! Why should they be able to make a decision on what goes & what stays? If they want that responsibility, perhaps they should take care of afore mentioned areas.
Greg January 25, 2013 at 07:31 PM
You would be willing to pay for that? The city does not print money, services are paid for through taxes, fees and assessments.
Ang ~ January 26, 2013 at 04:47 PM
So basically what your saying Greg, is that we are paying the city to cut their lawn & replace and shovel their sidewalks?? Not to mention, let them decide if the trees we purchase & put money into taking care of should be cut down, is that right? Hmmm...SMH!!
Greg January 26, 2013 at 09:31 PM
I said no such thing. You connected several services to the decision to cut trees on public land, I asked if you are willing to pay for those services. I don't know what SMH!! Means.

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