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A tree grows in Texas Township

The branches of the tree in this picture are clearly brushing against the chimney. The Texas Township supervisors don’t see this as a safety issue.
TRR contributed photo

By Fritz Mayer
January 29, 2014

TEXAS TOWNSHIP, PA — A picture taken of a tree in Amy Minnich’s yard shows that it is clearly brushing up against her chimney. She considers this a safety issue, but beyond that, the towering pine, which is owned by her neighbor, is costing her money. According to Minnich, she has had to bear the cost of replacing her rear roof three times in recent years because of damage done by pine needles collecting heavily on the roof and in the gutters.

Minnich has been to the supervisors meetings in the past to address the issue, and at one point, it seemed like a former zoning officer had convinced the neighbor to hire a contractor to take the tree down. But that never happened, and Minnich would like to know why.

On her visit to the supervisors’ meeting on January 20, the supervisors were not receptive to her complaints.

She said that zoning officer Steve DeYoung explained to her that the neighbor decided the tree isn’t posing a danger and the branches over her house don’t need to come down.

She said to the supervisors, “I was wondering why the neighbor that owns the tree would have to decide, when clearly I was told it wasn’t up to him; it’s clearly violating an ordinance. Of course he’s not going to find it an issue.”

Supervisor Allan Wickle responded, “I think the tree has been there a long time before they built the house. But it’s his tree, and you’re allowed to cut his branches.”

Minnch, “But that’s the whole point, why would I pay to take care of a tree that’s not mine.”

Wickel, “Well, it’s bothering you; it’s not bothering the neighbor.”

Minnich persisted, circling back to her original point, saying, “Last meeting I was at, I was shown the ordinance that the tree violated. I was told that I would get help with the problem. Then today the zoning officer said the owner doesn’t see it as a problem.”

Later, Chairman Don Doney interrupted, and said, “But it’s your opinion it’s a safety issue.”

Minnch: “It is a safety issue, if it’s smashing against my chimney…”

Doney: “We don’t see it as a safety issue.”

Minnich: “Of course you don’t. If it were over your house you would.”

DeYoung also opined that the tree did not constitute a safety issue. “That tree is not going to fall down,” he said.

Doney told Minnich she should seek some legal advice, and it was clear that the supervisors would not be taking any action on the matter.