The yellow tape on a quiet Cheviot street does not signify a crime scene. But to homeowner Kathy Stoutimore, what the tape surrounds is indeed a crime.
Stoutimore says a city-hired sidewalk contractor sliced through the big roots on her two giant oak trees, killing them.
"They had a tree guy come out and cut the roots of the trees to lay the new sidewalk," she said.
Now, one year after her new sidewalk was installed, both trees are dying, and dropping dangerous large limbs.
Several arborists she called for help said the trees cannot be saved. "They say the cutting has killed the trees," she said.
City denies her claim
But Stoutimore doesn't understand why the City of Cheviot is washing its hands of the damage that she claims it caused.
This whole project was the city's idea, she says. It was a city contractor who then cut the tree roots to pour the sidewalk.
So why, she asks, cant the city help take care of the damage?
Stoutimore learned that in Cheviot, unlike in the City of Cincinnati, it's homeowners, not the city, who are responsible for the trees right up to the street. That means it is her responsibility to remove them.
Estimates to cut them down? "One was for $8,000 and the other was for $13,000," she said. "The city offered nothing."
Cheviot Mayor Sam Keller responded to our questions in an email, saying "this is the first I have heard of this. We will look into it, gather the facts, and get back to Mrs. Stoutimore."
Stoutimore says if no one will help, she may have to sue, which could cost as much as taking down the trees. But she says something has to be done before the trees land on someone's car or head.
"It's scary, it's really scary," she said.
What you can do
What can you do if a city or township project, such as road, sewer, or sidewalk crew threatens your landscaping?
You may want to ask the crew to wait a day, until you can talk to your spouse, the city, and perhaps an attorney. And you (or a spouse) may want to stay home the day they work in front of your house.
That way you may be able to prevent expensive damage, and you don't waste your money.
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