Street trees have numerous, well-documented benefits, but some misbehaving maples have ended up costing the city government in Salem, Ore. some money. According to a report in the Statesman-Journal newspaper, the Salem City Council there has authorized officials to pay up to $95,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by resident Brian Cooksey.
Cooksey alleged that the city’s Norway maples stunted the growth of his arborvitaes and damaged some of his other shrubs, and that the roots penetrated his property and caused problems. His lawsuit accused the city of negligence in not trimming or removing the maples when he requested it. A Marion County jury agreed late last year, finding the city at fault. The city now has opted to pay a settlement rather than waiting for the court to issue a final judgment. The city has also removed the trees in question and installed a root barrier.
City officials in Salem told the newspaper that problems with trees sometimes occur, but they are usually settled by a review board. Litigation is seldom involved.
Cornell University has published an urban tree guide that recommends which trees to use and where to use them, so as to maximize benefits and minimize problems.
Tree growers, landscape architects, arborists — what’s your take on this? Is it common to run into problems from street trees, and what should be done to prevent them?