Residents Push to Have ‘Destructive’ Tree Removed
Township officials say tree is no risk to property.
The months-long quest by an Alicia Avenue woman to remove a town tree she says is threatening her property continued Tuesday, as residents urged the Township Council to take action.
Resident Ruth Brower has continually appeared at council meetings to share her concern that roots from a swamp red maple tree in front of her house are invading her yard and could threaten her foundation.
“There is almost 12 feet of solid root mass covering my lawn,” Brower told council members in her latest plea for help Tuesday night. “My home, to me, is more important than this particular tree.”
Because the tree is on public property, Brower cannot remove it. She said public works crews could remove the “destructive” tree and presented council members with a petition listing more than 40 signatures supporting her cause.
Louise Jones, another Alicia Avenue resident, also pressed for the tree’s removal.
“I urge you to act and caution you against further delay,” she told council members. “The tree is impacting negatively on her property and mine.”
Jones said she was concerned because four trees came down in a recent storm.
While Brower maintains the tree is jeopardizing her property, township officials said they have thoroughly reviewed her case and found it posses no property risk. Township Manager William Broughton said he inspected the site along with the Department of Public Works and the town’s tree expert.
Officials have offered Brower suggestions for dealing with the tree’s roots, including installing an in-ground barrier.
Broughton said the town must follow a fair process for assessing the issue and cannot simply cut down a tree because of resident complaints. He said Teaneck has at least 500 swamp red maple trees.
“That’s 500 trees we would have to cut down just because they have roots coming out of the ground,” he said.
Officials will continue to monitor the tree, he added.
The council was mindful of Brower’s concerns, but had no authority to order crews to cut down specific trees, said Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin. Township tree experts had investigated and more reviews were possible.
Councilman Elie Y. Katz said he understood the town manager needed to handle all resident concerns equally, but hoped to see a resolution to Brower’s alarm.
Calls to cut down the tree have become a near constant topic at council meetings in Teaneck, which often touts itself as “tree city.” Although officials maintain Brower’s case has been carefully reviewed, Councilwoman Barbara Toffler said action must be taken.
The Shade Tree Advisory Board was asked to examine the tree, but the group only serves in an advisory role.
“I think that this is absurd,” Toffler said. “This has become almost a town joke.”
Information about swamp red maple trees is attached from the LSU Coastal Roots Program