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Citizens raise concerns about tree removal

The Lennox City Council met Monday, May 8 in the Lennox County boardroom. All members were present to hear concerns on the agenda.

Art Ringen addressed the board on concerns of individuals on private property.

“I want to address a couple things, first off is authorization. Without having a signature on an authorization form, is the city legally limited to staying off an individual’s property,” he questioned.

Ringen then questioned what will occur if someone does come on the property.

“If anybody does come on the property, do we have the legal right to seek law enforcement to have them removed from the property?”

Members of the board asked if it was people coming onto the property for work, and to further clarify his question.

“I’m wondering about anything that will cause any type of property destruction or destruction of foliage,” he said. Ringen is worried about two trees that are indicated to come down on his property that he feels are not a problem for the sidewalk.

“One is approximately five feet away and the other side is probably three feet, I’m not sure if the sidewalk is on the property line, because I found a pin about four inches in the cement on the west end of the property,” he said.

The board thanked Ringen for his time, and stated that the best option for his situation would be to contact legal counsel and speak to them first as they would know the next steps to take in finding answers to his concerns.

Joni Williamson joined the meeting as a neighbor to Ringen.

“Things might be available, but when things are happening that are new, they should be a lot easier to know what it is, and they shouldn’t have to go searching for information that is our money and coming out of our bank accounts, to pay for something,” she said.

Alderman Chad Reilly stated the information is sent out and it is public information.

“It didn’t come in my mailbox, it didn’t come in an email, it didn’t come in a text message or a phone call, and you are a public servant, right? That means you work for me, that means you don’t need to be leaning back in your chair and relaxed while we are up here worried about what we are getting ready to face. It’s a lot of money and if it’s not all necessary then we should all be concerned about that,” she said.

Williamson continued to express her concern on the issue at hand. “You have a job, and that is working for me, that’s why you’re on the panel, so you need to sit up straight, and you have to be serious because this is serious to me. You say go search for the paper, go search for my money. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but this is sad, that I feel like some people have it worse on what they have to pay and I don’t feel like there is a lot of mercy for their situation,” she said.

Williamson feels there needs to be more communication on issues in Lennox.

“We are doing this work, it has to be done, water is important, the lines need to be taken care of, and if it’s in front of your property, you do have a responsibility to help with payment, but if someone is asking for some transparency, they need to be met with respect,” she said.

When questioned if she was at the previous meeting, Williamson stated not everyone can be at every meeting but feels there are more ways to communicate. “Send a postcard about something when it regards to money coming out of out pockets, when we already have huge surcharges on the water, we can’t afford all of this,” she said.

Other residents also voiced their concerns.

Following the public comments, alderman Bill Daugherty asked about the property on 304 S. Academy with regards to trees. He noted there have been other citizens that have reached out with concerns with regards to their trees.

“I would just love to have an explanation from the engineer as to how that all works out,” said Daugherty.

“I don’t think anyone from the council wants them gone…if it’s not necessary we don’t want them out,” said Chad Swier.

“But it if is part of what’s necessary to create the right infrastructure then we need to have an open discussion so our home owners understand why,” Daugherty added. “If we can’t do the necessary work that the engineers design then we end up with a flawed road.”

“Some of it’s a safety thing,” said Reilly.

“Mitch and I talked earlier today and anything that is marginal, we are not going to mark for removal at this point anyway,” said City Administrator, Nathan Vander Plaats. “The trees that we are talking about that are inside private property we aren’t touching…we are going to start tree removals this week [last Wednesday]. Anything that is in the right away is going to come out with this project.”

Later in the meeting, Vander Plaats brought up the topic of chicken permits with the council.

“We received a permit for an application for chickens to be housed at 312 S Academy Street, the only requirement I would seek to add is that the run, which looks to be a carport frame, be required to be secured or anchored to the ground, outside of that, the plan meets what we typically require for these permits,” VanderPlaats said.

With no comments or concerns, motion was approved.


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