Harrisville residents asked to pay for sidewalks damaged by trees

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jul 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-28 23:39:00-04

HARRISVILLE, Utah – About 13 homeowners received a letter from city officials in Harrisville telling them they will have to pay for damages to sidewalks caused by their trees.

The roots of the trees have reportedly cracked some city sidewalks, which officials said can be dangerous.

Harrisville City Administrator Bill Morris said they are working with residents in regard to the issue.

"It’s the trees on their private property that are lifting public sidewalks, and we gotta work together and that's what we're looking at doing,” he said.

Morris said they evaluate sidewalks for damages annually, and he said the root systems of some trees have grown under sidewalks and are lifting or moving the pavement. He said it’s a serious problem.

“If there is a situation where we can't work with them, then we'll have to take other measures because the problem is apparent, it's there, and it's a liability and we need to address it,” he said.

Morris said residents will need to take the initiative when it comes to repairing the damages.

“There's no fee from the city, so what it would be is working with the homeowner and having them get a contractor to come and fix the sidewalk that's been damaged and possibly remove the tree if the tree is going to be damaging it again soon,” he said.

Harrisville resident Russell Cox said he understands the need to correct the problem.

"I understand them wanting to correct the issue, and I don't mind paying my share, but it's hard to take cutting down these trees,” he said. “Even cutting em down is a lot of money.”

Homeowners can expect to pay out anywhere from $84 to tear out and replace one block of sidewalk to $2,400 to cut down and remove an entire tree.

Morris said they are working to help residents resolve the problem.

“The city is working on doing some community outreach to inform residents of the most appropriate trees to be planting in the park strips and in areas where there’s sidewalks, curb, gutter and driveway approaches,” he said. “So there's trees that are better suited for those areas that won't cause the damage that other trees cause.”

But some Harrisville residents, like Ashlee Urry, aren’t happy with the city’s approach.

"It seems to be punishing us for something that is beyond our control really, cause we didn't plant the tree initially,” she said. “I would prefer to see it a shared cost."

Most of the homeowners who spoke to FOX 13 News regarding the issue said they would prefer to see the cost shared between the homeowner and the city, but so far Harrisville City is not offering to pick up any of the costs.