The city of Delaware may update city code to align its policy regarding who’s responsibility for street tree maintenance.

“Our inclination is to maintain the street so it’ll have a uniform look,” said Ted Miller, parks and natural resources director, during Tuesday’s Shade Tree Commission meeting.

But the current legislation does not align with the city’s current policy, he said.

“It’s purposely broad,” Miller said.

He asked commissioners for any feedback about improving the language of the law — Chapter 907 in the city code, which was passed in May 1980.

Commissioner Susan Wright said the use of the word “parkways” in the code was outdated.

And commission chairman Paul Olen brought up a portion of city code Chapter 907.02 (b) that the city shall “have the right to plan, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants and shrubs within the lines of all streets and other public places as may be necessary to insure public safety or to preserve or enhance the symmetry and beauty of of such public grounds.”

Public safety and “beauty are open to interpretation,” he said.

But Olen said he has no problem with the present law.

Miller said the legislation is broad allow the application of the law to depend on the situation.

Commissioner Tom Glissman inquired whether the law should include a specific list of tree species.

But Councilman George Hellinger said from a council perspective that it prefers to highlight such items on secondary documents.

“We try to take specifics out of ordinances,” he said.

The commission also considered including a section about abusing street trees and the penalties. Vandalism of a street tree in Delaware would be destruction of public property, Hellinger said.

But enforcement would be lax, he said.

“Today, who’s going to put them in. It’s just a question of enforcement.”

Commissioner Tom Wolber said the commission should consider adopting American Electric Power’s pruning policies to prevent disfigurement of trees.

But Olen said it has a memo of understanding with AEP and continue to monitor how they prune trees to clear the way for electrical lines.

“AEP has been very helpful,” city arborist Doug Richmond said. “I can’t think of one (tree) I had to remove because of AEP’s pruning.”

He added that some of the taller trees were planted in the wrong spots, which creates issues with the power lines.

Miller said he would get feedback from the Planning & Community Development Department and present it at the next meeting.

In other business, the commission approved the street tree plans for Lantern Chase Phase II development.

The next Shade Tree Commission meeting is Sept. 27.


By Brandon Klein

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Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.