Inquirer: Renegade tree service creates road hazard

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 20, 2013 

MIKE OWEN/mowen@ledger-enquirer.comThis pile of tree remains was creating a dangerous situation on a north Columbus residential street.

This is a new one, and we don't get many of those at Inquirer Central.

Concerned Reader Sally left her home around 12:45 p.m. one day last week to run a short errand. When she was returning around 1:30, driving around a corner and down a hill on Ranch Forest Drive, she had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting pieces of tree trunk in the road. No, a tree hadn't fallen, unless you count falling off a truck as fallen. Apparently, some tree service had decided not to pay the dumping fee at the inert landfill and just left a large pile of former trees on the side of the road.

They didn't do a very neat job of it, either, because several sections of the trunk had rolled out into the street, on a curve, to boot.

Sally, "all 100 pounds of me," got out of her car and rolled the sections to the curb so no one would damage their car. But the pile of debris was still sticking out into the road to the extent that two cars couldn't pass at the same time. That, and the fact that it was in the middle of a curve, created a dangerous situation. In fact, when I went out to see the problem, I almost ran into another car coming blindly around the pile.

So what's the problem, you ask? Call the city and they'll clean it up and haul it away, right? No.

Sally called the city and was told by a Special Enforcement officer that it's city policy not to pick up tree remains left by commercial tree services. The tree service is responsible for hauling the stuff to the Granite Bluff inert landfill on River Road. There, they pay a fee of about $29 a ton.

I called Drale Short, Special Enforcement manager, to ask about what would be done. As it turns out, Short said, the city will pick up such refuse. But first they try to determine who is responsible.

"Normally in a situation like that, we hope and pray that someone saw the tree service do it, because then we can take action against the tree service," Short said. "But if we don't know who did it and there is no witness, we will coordinate with Waste Collection to get it cleaned up."

Short said dumping is "a city-wide issue." It's a problem all over, but some areas are better suited for the scofflaws to get away with it.

"We try to identify consistent areas, where we can put people on alert," Short said. "We let them know to keep an eye out for it happening. We tell them not to accost them, just get the name on the truck and a tag number if you can, and we'll take it from there."

OK, Concerned Readers, we can help stop this. Everybody keep an eye out for tree service trucks in your neighborhood. If you see a loaded truck turn into a residential area, it's probably not on the way to Granite Bluff, especially if it's a cul-de-sac, like Ranch Forest Drive. Keep an eye on it. And if the crew starts dumping stuff on the side of the road, get a tag number and call Special Enforcement. They're breaking the law and costing you, the taxpayer, money. Oh yeah, and the mess on Ranch Forest has been cleared up.

Update

Have you heard the expression, "Things have to get worse before they can get better"? If you haven't, maybe you should get off Facebook and read more.

Anyway, let's hope that's what's going on over at the corner of 15th Avenue and Springer Road in Lakebottom. You will recall that the backyard, which faces Springer, looked like a Third World country. Special Enforcement told me they'd served notice to the tenants that they'd have to clean it up or face a possible fine.

Well, I rode by there Friday and it actually looked worse. But it appears that a cleanup of a sort is going on. There's more debris piled up on the roadside, so it looks like the tenant is cleaning things out. There's even a cracked toilet that wasn't there before. We, and Special Enforcement, will keep an eye on it.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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