Cost of South Bend tree removal ordinance concerns residents - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Cost of South Bend tree removal ordinance concerns residents

SOUTH BEND - An ordinance in the city of South Bend that mandates residents pay for the removal of trees on their tree lawn is raising concern. Property owners in South Bend are expected to pay anywhere from 400 to 1,500 dollars for the removal of hazardous trees.

Regina Hankins, a single mother of two, has been living in South Bend for 26 years. Last month, Hankins received a notice from the city requiring her to remove an Ash tree located on the tree lawn in front of her house. 

 "Bottom line is I know it's expensive and we don't have the money to pay to have this tree cut down" says Hankins. "I figure I pay taxes, city taxes. I have for many years you would think that would be included." Hankins has yet to remove the tree, but she says if she knew she had to maintain the tree for the city, she may have never moved into the neighborhood.

"It's ridiculous to have to cut down a freaking' tree that you didn't even plant" says Hankins. Not knowing what to do, Hankins turned to District 3 Councilwoman, Valerie Schey, for help.

Schey believes the city needs to evaluate their budget priorities to make the city's residents number one. "While we continue to spend quite a bit on revitalizing our downtown, I worry that we are doing so at the expense of our residents" says Schey.

 Director of Communications for the city of South Bend told FOX28 "We welcome further discussions about this issue during the budget process and we will work to keep residents informed of the longstanding municipal code that makes trees on their property, including tree lawns, the responsibility of homeowners. As well as, the city's tree removal program."

Schey however, believes the city should be doing more for their residents, especially when tax money pays for city upkeep. "I don't think that you can turn a blind eye to the residents who are essentially footing the bill for all that" says Schey.

The ordinance has been in place since 1962 and in fact states that property owners are responsible for removal of trees on their property - including the tree lawn. To read the entire ordinance follow this link and click on section 19.

The city also says residents can call the City Forester or parks department to discuss possible removal payment plans or go through a private tree-removal service. However, they say a private service may cost double or even triple what the city is charging.

The Personnel & Finance Committee will meet next Monday, September 8 to discuss this issue.

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