While more cities are recognizing the value of a thriving urban forest, Circleville is losing what little we have. Trees provide many economic benefits that have been proven by research. Trees can be beautiful and make for a pleasant street and neighborhood. Trees can be a factor in slowing climate change.
In the past three years, 12 mature city trees have been removed. A city tree is a tree growing in a tree lawn or in the right of way, on city property or in a city park. These trees belonged to us.
Some were removed without notifying anyone. Some were removed after notifying the city. Three were removed with the approval of the Tree Commission. Only four were replaced. A small tree does not replace a mature tree. Most were removed in spite of a city ordinance against it at the time. The city was not reimbursed for the losses.
The Tree Plan requires property owners to apply for a permit to remove, prune, plant or spray a city tree. The application requires that the Tree Commission approve or not approve the permit. The city administration has not always embraced the commission’s advice. The number one issue is tree and sidewalk conflicts. It isn’t always necessary to remove the tree to repair the sidewalk.
There are two mature trees that are being considered for removal by the city. The Tree Commission recommended they not be removed. The removal is said to be necessary to replace a badly deteriorated sidewalk in the 400 block of North Court Street.
As further justification, the trees “… should be removed to minimize fixed-object roadway hazards where those trees are within what should be a clear zone.” This would set a precedent for removing every city tree on Court Street, Main Street, Northridge Road and Stoutsville Pike.
There are times when a tree needs to be removed. We all want safe sidewalks. If a city tree is being considered for removal, we expect that our city administration do everything reasonable to save our trees. Presently, this is not being done.