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Citizen concerned over surprise tree trimming

By Staff | Feb 23, 2015

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, community members in the city of Blue Earth watched as a two-story house was transported from the east side of the city to the west as part of a project taken on by the county’s Habitat for Humanity.

In order to pull off the move of a home that size, several trees with low-hanging branches that were located along the moving route had to be trimmed in order to avoid damage to the house.

Pam Armon, of Blue Earth, appeared before the council to express her concerns involving the tree trimming that took place Feb. 4.

“I was livid to think that these major trees, even just these limbs, were sitting out in the streets without my knowledge,” Armon said.

According to Armon’s neighbor, at 9 a.m. that Wednesday, Habitat for Humanity volunteers put a flier inside the door of each home that would be affected by the trimming. The trimming then took place at 3 p.m. that afternoon.

“Six hours is not enough notice when we’re talking about cutting major limbs off of 30-year-old trees,” Armon said.

The homeowner gave a few recommendations to the city as to how it should have handled this entire process.

“Citizens should receive notice, by mail, at least two weeks ahead of time,” Armon said. “I was told, after the fact, that notices were printed in the newspaper and on the radio, but I shouldn’t be penalized if I didn’t see them.

“If homeowners have issues, they should be given enough time to talk to someone at City Hall before their trees are cut.”

Linda Steinhauer, the Habitat for Humanity board president, was also present at the meeting.

“The time frame for moving the house was significantly moved up,” Steinhauer said. “We thought they would be trimming on Thursday, not Wednesday.”

According to Staci Thompson, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Martin and Faribault counties, they had been told that the trees could be trimmed because the house was ready to be moved.

“We had been told all along that we needed a week of notice for the city to get everything put together,” Thompson said. “That would have given us plenty of time to get the notifications out, but when I spoke to them Tuesday, they were ready to go.”

The trees that were affected on Armon’s yard, as well as several other trees in the city, are technically property of the city, considering that the boulevard is city property as well.

Mayor Rick Scholtes and the other council members voiced their concerns involving the lack of timely notice.

“We should have the route predetermined weeks ahead of time,” Scholtes said. “Someone from the city should go around to these houses and visit with the homeowner so that we’re right there to answer any questions.”

Scholtes moved the topic to a work session in order to discuss the issue and resolve the matter more thoroughly.