Friday, February 15, 2008

Street trees - County policy

The county will be replacing cherry trees on Tildenwood Drive due to the immense destruction that was caused by the construction crews when building the Montrose Parkway. Since first notifying everyone that the dead trees will be removed and new ones planted, a lot of people on other streets have asked to have trees removed and/or planted. First, I will outline the county tree maintenance department policy, as I understand it (having discussed these requests with Brett Linkletter, the tree maintenance program manager). Next, we can discuss the Montrose Parkway construction "fallout" as it pertains to the contiguous neighborhoods. I will put that into another post. A short course in ownership does not extend to the street curbs. The grassy strips at the edge of the streets are generally easements for utilities and the county to do public maintenance. As a side note, the street itself is a public right-of-way, and parking along the streets is open to the public at large, if parking is permitted on that street. No property owner "owns" or controls the parking space on the street in front of his/her house. This issue has come up in the past, so I thought I'd clarify it. The trees next to the street are county-controlled. If there are power lines on that side of the street, pruning of the trees is done by Pepco, with the intention of keeping the lines clear and free from breakage. Pepco's tree-trimming subcontractors are notably unskilled at properly pruning for appropriate future growth. The county government is not responsible for these prunings. Any tree that is a county street tree in poor health or decayed beyond saving can be removed by the county, with a new tree planted in its place. The new tree may not be the same variety or species as the one removed. Since our communities were built 45-50 years ago, the science of street trees has grown, so that the list of "approved" trees for different locations has changed. In addition, the tree removal and subsequent replanting schedules vary widely. It may take a year to get a dead tree removed, and another year to get its replacement planted. The county will not plant a tree just to fill in a blank space; if there wasn't a tree there, they won't be likely to add one. It is up to each homeowner to notice if there is a problem with the street trees in front of his/her house. The county doesn't cruise the streets, inspecting all the trees. If you note that your tree(s) are dead or diseased, the county will respond if you notify them of the problem. You can reach Mr. Linkletter at or by phone at 240-777-6000.

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