Forester to assess city ash trees
JANESVILLE A city forester could tell residents whether to remove trees on private property after a unanimous vote Monday from Janesville City Council members.
The city does not have the power to do that now.
The forester would be able to inspect for dead or dying trees and order them removed before they become a public hazard.
City Manager Eric Levitt said some might residents assume the provision encroaches on private rights, but the council determined public health and safety was most important.
The changes were written to deal with advancement of the emerald ash borer.
The forester position was eliminated years ago when the city's elm trees were removed because Dutch elm disease devastated that species. The current ordinance has been on the books since then.
The council will contract with a forester.
The new ordinance encompasses all trees and diseases. It also retains the current policies that require residents to care for trees and remove dead and dying trees on city-owned terraces.
Tom Presny, parks director, said the city expects some 30,000 ash trees to die if they are not treated within the next three to five years. About half of those are on private property.
Presny recommended the forester have the authority to require a tree be removed on private property because it turns brittle, almost glass-like, when it dies. Trees in such condition could be a "threat to public safety and may provide significant property damage if not removed," he said.
The ordinance also creates an appeals process if a resident disagrees with a forester's ruling.
Residents will not be required to replant trees on terraces. If they do, the choice of tree is their own.
Presny said the city has applied for $50,000 in grants, $40,000 of which would be used to plant replacement trees. The remainder would treat prize ash trees in hopes of keeping them alive.