NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk neighborhood says the city is neglecting its responsibility to keep trees on the right-of-way pruned so they don’t hit houses.
It is a particular problem in the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Residents complained about a tree that is clearly on the right-of-way, touching the home, complained and nothing happened.
10 On Your Side viewer Joe Ritchie is fed up.
“This is a huge tree right here next to me. It’s on city property. The branches behind me cover power lines, and there’s also rats in the tree going up the tree to my neighbor’s apartment,” he said.
What got Ritchie thinking was when he and others called the city to complain to prune back the trees for the next big storm, they got what has been described by the city as a standard return letting them know “estimated timeline for completion is 547 business days.”
A year and a half.
“You got to be kidding me. We pay taxes. I pay mine on time, and I know there’s a budget for it,” Ritchie said.
City spokeswoman Lori Crouch indicated the right people didn’t get the request.
“The tree pruning service request was made online Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 2:14 p.m. Due to the significant number of requests, tree pruning is on a 12- to 18-month timeline unless a certified arborist deems different based on a site evaluation. The MyNorfolk response of 547 days is 18 months (worst case response time). After conducting a site evaluation today, city crews will prune the tree by the end of next week,” Crouch said.
There is disagreement with the city’s explanation. Ritchie’s property manager claims they’ve complained about at least two trees on city property four times since June 8. Branches are hitting the house.
“How can we not look at this, and think about the next major hurricane and the issues from that, and the city not take ample opportunity to get this corrected quickly?” Ritchie said.
Ritchie also claims the property manager told him the city blamed COVID-19,
“The city said it was due to COVID, but this has only been going on for six months. How can you have a backlog for two years, as we were told, and prior to that they said they were short-staffed.”
Rodney Chance’s family says he’s complained about the trees out there for 10-15 years,
“As you can see, you have power lines going from a power source up into a tree that’s connected to my next-door neighbor’s house tree over there… You see all the leaves and ivy mixed in with all the lines on the pole.”
However, 10 On Your Side found bigger issues than that: Excavation of some type left exposed what is believed to be a power line.
Following 10 On Your Side’s calls, Bureau Manager for Norfolk’s Department of Parks and Urban Forestry Steve Patton came out to look at the tree hitting the home.
“It’s not safe at the end of the street… We need someone to come out and look at this… It also seems like the tree needs to be pruned,” Patton said while onsite and on the phone.
Following calls to Virginia Natural Gas, a crew showed up to fill in the hole and cover the exposed line.
A contractor on scene said it’s standard “not to cover the line because we want people to see it and to know it’s there.”
The problem is what Chance said.
“We have been concerned about that because three weeks ago they should’ve been covered up and something needs to be done about it.”
The hole is part of and effort by Virginia Natural Gas to put a gas line main in the area of Pennsylvania Avenue.
A contractor said following calls from 10 On Your Side, the hole was covered.
However, the contractor added they will “just have to dig it up again.”
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