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What to do about your trees

Trees have been front and center stage since the Aug. 10 storm, classified as a derecho, blew its way through Nevada and many other Iowa cities.

The high winds wreaked havoc on trees and brought up many questions about the City’s responsibility and property owner’s responsibility when it comes to caring for damaged trees.

Ash trees have also been victim to Emerald Ash Borers, which brings another dimension to the questions surrounding trees in our community.

City Code regarding Trees

First off, we’d like to share several parts of the City Municipal Code regarding trees to help sort out who is responsible for various problems or situations surrounding trees.

Chapter 151,, provides the rules governing trees and their upkeep and is worth reading if you have trees on your property.

When it comes to duties regarding tree trimming, the Code stipulates that a property owner has five days to remedy a tree trimming situation when given notice. In light of the storm, the City is giving all property owners a reasonable amount of time to deal with tree issues. We know tree companies are backed up by the high demand for their services at this time.

Questions and Answers

The following are some questions and answers that may arise regarding trees at this time. If you have an issue that is not addressed here, please reach out to the City so that we can discuss and/or look over your specific situation.

Question: I have a tree that was damaged in the Aug. 10 storm. I don’t think it’s strong enough to keep, but much of it is still standing. It is in the City’s ROW. Will the City remove it?

Answer: If the tree is dead, dying, or diseased, the City will likely tend to it. Also, if there is a danger to public, the City will tend to it as needed to remove any danger.

Question: I have a tree that was wiped out in the storm, and we took it down. The stump is in the City’s ROW. Will the City come in and take care of that stump?

Answer: The City will not remove a stump. The stump is not classified as a hazard according to the state code.

Question: I have loose limbs in a big tree. They need to be cut down, but I can’t get a tree service to come for quite some time. Will I be in violation of any codes while waiting for this work to happen?

Answer: No, you will not be in any violation at this time. The City understands storm damages will take time to clean up. 

Question: I have a tree that has been majorly damaged and needs to come down. Half of the tree trunk is in the City’s ROW and half is in my own lawn. Whose responsibility is it to take this tree down?

Answer: A situation like this needs to be reviewed by city leaders to determine what action is needed and who is responsible.

Question: I have an ash tree in the City ROW in my yard, and it is diseased. It’s dying off in chunks. Whose responsibility is it to remove the tree? And what is the timeline for that removal?

Answer: If it is in the ROW, it is the City’s responsibility to cut down. As of right now, we are unable to put an exact timeline in place. The City has been working on ash tree removals for a few years. We will continue to work on this as we are able.

Question: I have a tree that is diseased and dying in my yard. It is not in the City ROW. Do I have to remove it? And if so, how long do I have?

Answer: Review the city code regarding this issue, as it appears in section 151.06.

INSPECTION AND REMOVAL. 2. Private Property. If it is determined with reasonable certainty that any such condition exists on private property and that danger to other trees or to adjoining property or passing motorists or pedestrians is imminent, the Council shall notify by certified mail the owner, occupant or person in charge of such property to correct such condition by treatment or removal within fourteen (14) days of said notification. If such owner, occupant or person in charge of said property fails to comply within 14 days of receipt of notice, the Council may cause the condition to be corrected and the cost assessed against the property.

*If the tree’s condition of dying is related to the Aug. 10 storm, you will be given a reasonable amount of time to take care of it.

Question: My neighbor’s tree has damaged limbs that are located over my yard. Who’s responsible for making sure the limbs are taken down?

Answer: If the limbs are in your yard, you have the right to trim them until they are not on your property. If the limbs are broken off in your yard, they are your responsibility even though they came from another place. 

Question: I have tree damage and limbs that are at risk of ending up on a power line if we get another storm or wind. What do I do?

Answer: Call your power or communication companies and ask them how they want you to proceed. Unless they are in the ROW, they are the property owner’s responsibility.  

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