Westminster council moves closer to accord on street tree planting, care

June 14, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

CLARIFICATION

An article in Tuesday's edition of The Sun for Carroll County failed to note that Ruth Anderson of Bishop Court, Westminster, told City Council members that she had been barred from taking down a tree in front of her house unless she acquired a $10 permit, paid to have the tree cut down and the stump ground up, and replaced the tree.

The Westminster City Council came a little closer last night to consensus on how the city can work with property owners to plant street trees and who will be responsible for maintaining them.

The session was one of the most heavily attended council meetings this year, and several property owners made clear that they didn't want trees in front of their homes without their permission.

"I think we need to have some say in what's going on on our property," said Velva Cooper of Ralph Street. She said some of her neighbors on Ralph and South Center streets were not notified of the recent tree planting on South Center.

City planner Katrina Tucker said the government contacted all owners of property where trees were planted. She said the tree commission chose South Center Street as the best site for 20 trees donated by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

The audience applauded when City Councilman Stephen R. Chapin said property owners should not be required to maintain trees planted on sidewalks in front of their homes without their consent.

"This whole issue deals with private property rights. It's a serious issue," Mr. Chapin said.

Bishop Court resident Ruth Anderson complained that state foresters have forbidden her to cut down a swamp maple in front of her house. She said the tree's roots have raised the sidewalk, but she was told she could not take the tree down "or the state will take me to court."

The council asked City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. to put a suggestion by council President Kenneth A. Yowan into legal language. Mr. Yowan proposed that in areas recommended for street trees, the city offer the property owner a free tree. If the owner accepts, he or she agrees to maintain the tree.

In other action, the council:

* Received a petition from Manchester Avenue and Webster Street residents to make Manchester Avenue one way from Main Street to Buena Vista Drive. Petition circulator Steve Crouse said speeding is so common on Manchester Avenue that the police "probably get writer's cramp writing tickets there."

Several Webster Street residents said they were unaware of the proposal. One said a one-way street would inconvenience people on Webster Street and North Colonial Avenue trying to reach Main Street.

The council will hear public comments on the idea at its next meeting, July 11.

* Asked the public improvements committee for a recommendation on closing the north end of Sycamore Street.

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