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updated: 12/9/2010 5:12 PM

Libertyville wants to expand tree removal law

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Libertyville Parks Director Jim Barlow said he does not want to create the "tree police" in the village, but it's time to be more proactive in removing dead and diseased trees and nuisance vegetation.

Barlow said the village board is expected to consider a proposal in January to update and expand an existing law allowing for the removal of diseased trees at the owner's expense to include those infested with the emerald ash borer.

It would also allow the public works department to remove at the owner's expense any vegetation that prevents a driver from having a clear view of traffic, or any limbs that are less than 8 feet over a sidewalk or 10 feet over a street.

"We are not and do not want to be the tree police, but we are in a situation where we have to deal with some of these issues," Barlow said. "We don't want to be out there doing this work, but it needs to get done."

The proposal has been reviewed by the village board's park and recreation committee, which is working on an update of a law that targets trees infected with the Dutch elm disease.

The expanded law would include ash and chestnut trees because of the invasive emerald ash borer beetle and the chestnut blight fungus.

Barlow said there are roughly 1,400 ash trees in the village, and seven trees infected with the emerald ash borer have been removed. He said there are less than 25 chestnut trees in Libertyville, but none have been stricken with chestnut blight.

The proposed updated law calls for the removal of any dead or diseased ash or chestnut tree not in a naturalized setting that have been found to be infected. The homeowner would receive a 30-day notice to have the tree cut down and destroyed. After that period, the village will remove the tree, or pay a tree removal service to do the work.

If the tree is cut down by the village or tree service, the cost would be covered by the homeowner, either at the time the work is completed or through a lien against the property.

"Unless they come up with a cure for these trees infested by the ash borer, it's only going to get worse," Barlow said. "Like I said, we are not the tree police, but we are in a situation where this has to be taken care of."