Monday, January 9, 2012

What's Going On With Kessler Boulevard?

Sometime last week, I left my house to go about my day at around 10am. My neighborhood exits out onto Kessler Boulevard, a two lane road with trees and houses on both sides. When I came back on that same day, I saw several trees that were taken down by the lane that heads south-southwest towards 38th street and I-65. In several of the yards, the stumps and several parts of the body of the tree still remained scattered in the yard. The next morning, I could easily see several more trees with marked with an X, and one tree in particular with a red-orange fence around it, meaning even more will be cut down.

Honestly, I was stunned with the efficiency. About a dozen trees cut down within a single 12 hour period? I'm impressed.

But I had absolutely no idea what was going on. So I fired off some e-mails and eventually found out that it was due to a Citizens Water project. At this time, I'm still trying to track down details from an official source on the specifics of the project.

Sunday afternoon, I talked with a neighbor who was doing yard work who had one tree cut down and has an orange fence around a tree that is due to be cut down. Like many of the other neighbors, the tree stump of the cut-down tree is still there as well as several large logs.

He told me that, when he was originally told about this project by the city two years ago, their property wasn't going to be included in the project and none of the trees in his yard would be touched. Over the past two years, the plans seem to change often, but as of last week, he thought the trees in his yard would be untouched by the project. When he came home last week, a non-indigenous tree that was 16 inches in diameter was cut down, and the other tree in his yard is fenced off and is going to be cut down soon. He complained that, over the past 17 years, the city has cut down many trees for projects and often doesn't replace them.

He also expressed concerns about how this project will affect his property value, noting that the non-indigenous tree that was cut down was worth several thousand dollars. He told me that other neighbors, who had indigenous oak trees, would be getting theirs replaced, but his wouldn't be.

I also asked if he's tried contacting the neighborhood association and he said it wouldn't do any good since the project is approved.

If you ask me, someone has some explaining to do.

10 comments:

  1. Great job, Matt. I was wondering if the cutting was done without notice...and it apparently was. I wonder if those trees were in the utility easement right of way. Even if they weren't, the utility can owe damages under eminent domain. The federal eminent domain, unlike the our state emindent domain law, does not require encroachment.

    That homeowner has a right to be unhappy. The cutting of that tree screen probably lowered the value of his home by $30,000. And that is at the lower end.

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  2. I suppose the alternative of turning on one's faucet and finding nothing coming out not (theoretically) mitigating the loss of somebody else's trees (which I would really think are in the easement to begin with). A lesson homeowners constantly ignore - don't allow trees to grow in utility easements (overhead or underground).

    That also goes for plantings around electric transformer cabinets, underground cables (telephone, cable, electric) and underground pipes (sanitary sewer and water). One should probably be careful about plantings around the pipes that drain water away from one's housing foundation as well.

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  3. There's several feet between where the person's property line ends and where Kessler Blvd is. I'm sure the city has the right to do whatever they want to that part of the yard.

    And it's worth noting (emphasizing) that this is only for this specfific neighbor. I don't know what the experience of the other residents along Kessler Blvd.

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  4. IS, actually even if the trees are in the right of way, cutting them down can trigger damages under the federal eminent domain law. Further, don't assume all those trees were in the right of way. You'd be surprised how sloppy they are on such things. I have a case now in Greenwood where some of the trees cut down were actually on the homeowners property.

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  5. Varan, I wouldn't assume those trees were planted by the homeowner. Considering the area, they most likely have been there from the very beginnning and the road was built through them.

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  6. Nancy Gilmer StoneJanuary 9, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    It's my understanding this is part of the sewer project..and I understand they have to sacrifice some trees to improve the infrastructure of our city. However, my question is this. Do they ever survey to see which side of the street would take down the least amount of trees or landscaping? In any case, Kessler Boulevard has lost the charm and character that it once had and I am forever sadden my this.

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  7. Nancy,

    The opposite side would have necessitated taking far fewer trees. I know trees are a pain for utility companies, but they add important value to properties. I don't know that I buy that they had to take those trees down.

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  8. Nancy Gilmer StoneJanuary 9, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Paul,

    I totally agree. This city has a nonexistent tree preservation policy...and it does seem to even a casual observer that the east side of Kessler has fewer trees. But I guess that requires common sense, and hey---enough said.

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  9. There are rules about underground pipe placement. Perhaps the water mains are already on the other side of the street then?

    A quick look along the proposed route for utility covers might prove illuminating.

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