|
|
The Suburbanite
  • AEP tree trimming draws ire in North Canton

  • Former councilman Gary Wechter told City Council on Monday night that he was extremely upset that a contractor hired by AEP cut trees much more than necessary on Woodrow Street NW during the past month.

    • email print
  • Former councilman Gary Wechter told City Council on Monday night that he was extremely upset that a contractor hired by AEP cut trees much more than necessary on Woodrow Street NW during the past month.
     Wechter, 76, of Portage Street NW, who served as councilman from 1980 to 1994, passed around photographs of trees, showing their limbs, about 15 to 16 inches in diameter, entirely removed.
     “All that’s left of them is trunk,” he said. “All the limbs are gone. … to me, this is an unnecessary loss of a valuable asset. … look at the size of the limbs removed from this tree. … Looks like something out of a horror movie.”
     Wechter said the tree was  far enough away from a powerline.
     He said his neighbor, 93, stood in front of a tree and refused to allow the contractor to cut it.
     “She stood in front of those chain saws, said, ‘You’re not going to touch my tree. I’ve seen what you’ve done to other trees,’” recounted Wechter, who called for AEP to give homeowners notification before trimming trees.
     The woman hired her own contractor to trim the tree, which Wechter said was done to the AEP contractor’s satisfaction without the extreme “unnecessary” cutting done to other trees.
     Law Director Tim Fox noted that AEP has an easement and legally has the right to trim any trees that approach the lines as long as its reasonable. But if the utility unreasonably damages trees, residents could file lawsuits seeking triple damages.
     Councilman Dan Griffith, at-large, who lives on Woodrow, said he agreed with Wechter.
     “I have to explain to my little ones why our trees on Woodrow have been massacred,” Griffith said. “I don’t see how any of these trees are going to last until my kids are out of high school.”
     Councilman Doug Foltz said there should be notification, and he would like AEP to send a representative to a council meeting to explain what happened.
    Resident Melanie Roll, also of Portage, said there should be mandated 24-hour notification so homeowners have the option of doing the trimming themselves. She asked if civic groups such as the Kiwanis Club could recruit volunteers to help trim and plant trees.
     Former councilman Chuck Osborne suggested the city hire an arborist to ensure that trees are responsibly maintained.
    Mayor David Held said it’s a matter of balance between preventing trees from causing power outages and minimizing harm to trees.
    “The challenge is nobody wants their power out due to the trees, but at the same time, we (don’t want) to have the trees cut to pieces.”
     
    OTHER BUSINESS
    KEY ACTION
    Passed an ordinance raising water fees by 5.5 percent a year for at least three years to fund improvements to the water system.
    Page 2 of 2 -  
    OTHER ACTION
    • Voted to approve an agreement with Canton where North Canton will pay 2.15 percent, or about $1.9 million, of the cost of $88.9 million worth of upgrades to Canton’s sewage plant. North Canton sends its sewage to Canton’s sewage system and pays Canton about $21 monthly per customer. Because only five council members were present council could not pass the measure as an emergency so it could take effect immediately. Final passage is expected Monday. North Canton sewage customers will see an increase of $1.75 a month in their sewer bills to pay for the sewer upgrades to reduce the plant’s phosphorous emissions once they’re completed around 2017 and Canton begins payments on the 20-year low-interest Ohio Environmental Protection Agency loans it took out for the work.
    • Approved soliciting bids for the Clearmount Avenue/Fairview Street/Woodside Avenue waterline replacement project at a cost not over $710,000.
    • Went into executive session for nearly 30 minutes to discuss the possible appointment and layoff of a public employee and union contract talks.
    DISCUSSION
    Council discussed Administrator Mike Grimes’ proposal to use $25,000 to buy one truck for the street department to instead buy four used trucks, never exposed to road salt, from Texas for that price.
    • Stark Board of Developmental Disabilities Lauren Friedman presented the board’s case to approve Issue 1 on the May ballot to allow Stark DD to consolidate two of its levies. She said a “yes” would not raise property taxes. Council President Jon Snyder, Ward 4, endorsed the issue.
    • Eric Bowles, the director of permits and development, said due to residents’ and council members’ requests, he will be stepping up enforcement of the city’s housing code and referring cases to the Mayor’s Court for people who don’t comply, an action not commonly taken in past years. He said he’s issued 34 violations letters so far this year, a recent high. Foltz said he has seen an increasing number of violations such as homes not being painted, refuse in yards or unsightly cars parked in yards. “The gloves are off with these houses,” he said. “We have to protect the integrity of the neighborhoods because it’s not fair to those who keep up their houses.”
    • Patrolman John Hemric was recognized at the council meeting for last month winning Community Police Officer of the Year by the Canton Exchange Club.