Who should repair of sidewalk issues caused by trees fall on?
By Chadwick P. Dolgos
Discussion of the recent deluge of storm systems hitting the area led Crafton council members to the topic of who should be responsible for removal of problematic trees planted by the borough on private properties.
During the June 13 virtual meeting, talks centered on trees growing on private properties causing sidewalks around the borough to split and lift.
Responsibility was ultimately put onto the Shade Tree Commission but no official action was taken.
Known for its tree-lined streets, Crafton has carried a Tree City USA status for the past 32 years. The Shade Tree Commission works to maintain that status and provides residents with a list of 26 species of trees considered preferred. Permits are required for removal, trimming, and planting of any shade tree.
Damage caused by these trees on private property is currently the responsibility of the property owner.
President Phillip Levasseur argued the borough should be responsible for maintaining the sidewalks when trees that cause the sidewalks issues were planted by the borough.
“Trees cannot be removed by the homeowners without petitioning the Shade
Tree Commission,” said Borough Manager Russ McKibban.
All members of the council agreed with Levasseur. President Pro-tem Brad Crouse noted the absurdity of expecting future homebuyers to buy a Crafton house, pay Crafton’s taxes, and maintain Crafton’s public sidewalks. The costs alone would deter anyone interested in moving to the area, he said.
Accepting responsibility for maintaining public sidewalks and curbs and shifting the responsibility from the property owners to the borough, Levasseur is expected to call on the Shade Tree Commission for action.
Recognizing the important role trees play in Crafton’s ecosystem, Levasseur is not only calling for the removal of problematic trees but that they also are replaced with something more appropriate.
He also recommends the commission consider alternative sidewalk structures to form around existing trees that have not died nor been damaged. Creative alternatives could lead to cost-effective solutions, he said.