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City to take over tree trimming in public right-of-way

Post Date:01/06/2017 9:16 AM
The City of West Des Moines Public Services Department (formerly known as Public Works) will begin maintaining trees in the City right-of-way shortly after the first of the year. The area between the street and the sidewalk is generally considered to be in the public right-of-way.

In the past, the responsibility for tree maintenance in the City right-of-way has been the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. Members of the City Council voted to modify the City Code to allow this activity at their December 12, 2016 City Council meeting.

John Olds, Urban Forester for the City of West Des Moines, said this change applies only to trees planted within the City right-of-way. “Trees planted on private property are still the responsibility of the property owner to maintain,” he said.

Trees need to be trimmed to avoid creating difficulties for traffic, pedestrians, school buses and solid waste collection trucks. City snow plowing and street sweeping also have been impacted by trees that are not properly maintained.

Olds said that according to City Code, trees on public and private property must have a minimum tree clearance height of 14’ over a City street and an 8’ minimum height over sidewalks.

In addition to trimming trees planted in the public right-of-way, Olds and Public Services staff also will be removing damaged or dead trees and vegetative material that poses an immediate risk to public safety and/or adjacent property or infrastructure. State law dictates that all trees planted within the public right-of-way that are dead, diseased and dying are the responsibility of the City.

The goal will be to evaluate and trim (if necessary) the City’s approximately 6,400 public trees on a three-year rotation. Crews will work through zones similar to those used by the City’s street cleaning program to schedule areas for review.

Questions about trees on the public right-of-way should be directed to John Olds at (515) 222-3417.
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