Marion council reviews tree-trimming policy

The Marion City Council approved a tree maintenance policy and met with Mark Chesney, general mana­ger and­ chief executive officer of the Kansas Power Pool, during its Oct. 24 meeting.

Christian Pedersen, electrical supervisor, was unable to attend the meeting, but Marty Fredrickson, director of streets and building inspector, answered questions about tree maintenance.

“We have never had (a policy) in writing, so when questions come up we really didn’t have anything to give to the customer,” Fredrickson said. “This way we will have something that will explain what we are responsible for and what we are not responsible for.”

City Attorney Susan Robson said the policy provides acknowledgement for written permission by the resident.

A 48-hour notification period is required before city crews start cutting tree limbs in front of someone’s house and right-of-way, Fredrickson said.

“By giving a 48-hour notice, the resident has choices to either hire a professional to trim the trees or do it themselves,” he said.

Easements not recorded

While preparing the policy, Fredrickson said it was discovered that the ci­t­y might not have easements recorded with the county’s register of deeds office.

“There are utilities there, but nothing was ever recorded at the courthouse,” Robson said.

Fredrickson said crews will go on a case-by-case basis and see if easements are recorded.

“I couldn’t foresee anyone saying, ‘I don’t want you on my property to fix electrical line because I don’t want electricity,’” he said. “That’s never been the case, anyway.”

Margo Yates, Parks and Recreation director, asked if something in the policy would require homeowners to confine their dogs when trees are being trimmed.

Fredrickson said: “We didn’t address that.”

Councilor Chris Costello asked if landowners had ever had problems with the way the electrical department trimmed trees.

“That’s why we have the notification,” Fredrickson said. “In today’s world, it’s nice to have something in writing and treat everybody the same.”

The policy indicates it is the customers’ responsibility to maintain and trim tree limbs on the secondary service line from the pole to the house.

“As a service to customers, the city will temporarily remove the service line so that arrangements can be made with a professional to remove necessary tree limbs,” Fredrickson said.

Once the work is completed, the city would then restore service.

The policy also addresses trees within the right-of-way or utility easement, which will be inspected by city personnel to determine if trimming or removal is necessary for safety reasons.

If removal is necessary, city personnel will remove the tree stump with a stump grinder to a depth of 2 inches or more.

Kansas Power Pool

Chesney presented objectives of the KPP by reviewing its history, growth, past successes and new opportunities.

The KPP was formed in 2005 by five Westar customers, he said. Today the utility has 23 member cities and will have 24 in 2017.

In 2012, Chesney talked about how most KPP members entered into a 20-year contract to support a bond issuance.

Marion’s contract will end when the 20 years are up, but nine of the 14 cities have a “full boat” contract, which Chesney said obligates them to go beyond a set contract date.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said the nine cities technically with no end to the contract will have as long as the KPP has debt to service.

The cities active with KPP are Attica, Augusta, Burlington, Clay Center, Ellinwood, Erie, Greensburg, Haven, Hillsboro, Holyrood, Kingman, Lucas, Luray, Marion, Minneapolis, Mount Hope, Mulvane, Oxford, St. Marys, Udall, Waterville, Wellington and Winfield.

Chesney said KPP has distinguished itself through two principal features: asset ownership with shared benefit of equity, and providing valuable services beyond power supply.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• heard from Phyllis Zorn about traffic control at First and Main streets.

• tabled the 2017 League of Kansas Municipalities statement of municipal policy discussion.

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