Licking County News

City will remove, but not replace, ash trees

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Pataskala City Council agreed Aug. 5 to spend $75,000 to remove about 160 dead ash trees from the Brooksedge, Brook Haven and Taylor Glen subdivisions.

The city will not, however, replace the trees right now.

The trees are being destroyed by the emerald ash borer. Infested ash trees usually die within three to five years.

City Council passed the appropriations ordinance that included the $75,000 on a 6-0 vote, with Merissa McKinstry absent.

The 6-0 vote came with a few challenges, though.

Mike Fox initially requested the legislation be tabled, which failed.

Bernard Brush, Mike Compton and Fox voted in favor and Dan Hayes, Bryan Lenzo and Pat Sagar voted against. Mayor Steve Butcher broke the 3-3 tie by voting against the motion.

Fox also tried to amend the legislation to remove the $75,000.

Again, Brush, Compton and Fox voted in favor and Hayes, Lenzo and Sagar voted against it. Butcher broke the tie by voting against the amendment.

Fox said he had several reasons for opposing the legislation.

He said the city's service department should be able to remove the trees rather than paying a contractor, a request he has made previously.

Fox also said he did not want the city to spend the money to replace the trees when trees are dying all over Pataskala and he questioned whether trees in the right of way should be replaced because the roots can negatively affect sidewalks.

City Administrator Timothy Boland said city officials had hoped to receive bids on removal and replacement to see if the $75,000 and the $10,000 already budgeted for the work would cover the cost.

But City Council declined to keep tree replacement in the resolution that allowed the city to advertise, accept bids and enter into contract for the removal of the trees.

The resolution was approved in a 4-2 vote, with Hayes and Lenzo dissenting, after the resolution was taken off the table and amended.

Fox proposed an amendment, which removed the words "and replacement." It was approved 4-2, with Hayes and Lenzo voting against.

Sagar said she voted to remove the wording so the city has time to plan for tree replacement.

"I do not see this as precluding the city from replacing the trees in the future," she said.

Lenzo said the vote shows a "profound disconnect between the rural areas of the city and the subdivisions."

In other business Aug. 5, Council heard first reading of an ordinance that would add restrictions to the city's legal firearms-discharge zones.

The draft ordinance restricts residents from shooting for more than two hours in one day and between dusk and dawn, unless the shooter is hunting.

Fox said he had not read the legislation and requested the agriculture committee review it at a future meeting.

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