Trim your tree or pay the price

Published: Aug. 8, 2018 at 5:45 PM EDT
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One village is going to great lengths to trim trees blocking the road. But if you don't do it yourself in Oak Hill, Ohio, you're going to be sent a bill.

It's the latest as cities and communities across the Tri-State and Kanawha Valley look to tidy up their town.

Officials said it's a safety issue they can't afford to ignore any longer, for more ways than one.

There’s a few spots that make drivers swerve, as long as someone isn't in the other lane.

We took a drive with Mayor Rob Leonard Wednesday afternoon. Even just pulling out of City Hall shows the problem.

He said it’s the cause of multiple wrecks in recent years, including at least one involving a school bus.

Tom Miller has lived in Oak Hill his entire life.

"They need to trim them back, and I think it'd help a lot," Miller said.

The City Council will have a final reading to its tree trimming ordinance Tuesday, putting some teeth into its current ordinance for residents who don’t comply.

Mayor Leonard said the main reason is safety: for school buses, for fire trucks, for the riders on the back of the garbage trucks.

But the main prompt is a new vac truck for water and sewer pipe problems. The price tag is $350,000.

"I've seen times before when we'd have this whole dug up trying to accomplish here today," Leonard said.

Instead, it’s a small hole which is quickly filled.

But if the truck hits a limb too hard, something not too hard to do these days, and it could be a quite expensive fix for taxpayers..

"Our exhaust stack on our garbage truck has been damaged," Leonard recalled.

Assuming council passes the update on Tuesday night, beginning Wednesday, a tree service will begin trimming back limbs within 2 feet of the road or hanging less than 14 feet high over it.

The minimum charge is $25, up to $100 dollars max. Leonard said there’s only two jobs that will require that much.

Residents who have a tree trimmed will see the charge on their water bill.

"We've had a little bit of negative feedback,” Leonard said.

But mostly it’s been positive, including a few thank you notes to the mayor.

Those like Miller think it’s about time.

"It'd be a good idea because there's a lot of blind spots," he said.

"We're hoping this is a cure-all for everything,” the mayor added. "I think it will make a big difference. It's going to help save us on our equipment, help on the safety of our guys, riding on the back of trash trucks to operate equipment."

The tree trimming ordinance has been in place for several years, but didn’t have a method to force compliance. The third and final council vote is set for Tuesday night, but so far those votes have all been unanimous.

Leonard said the tree trimming service is discounting its rates, so it will be cheaper for residents than hiring someone else. They estimated the combined total cost for all residents will be about $8,000.