CLARION - Shade trees were again a topic of discussion at the Clarion Borough September council meeting and the matter will be forwarded to the borough storm water authority for its input.
Clarion resident Elizabeth Fulmer has raised the issue several times over the past few years, expressing her concern that shade trees along borough streets are disappearing.
Many trees have been removed as they became diseased, overgrew into power lines, or their roots lifted sidewalks, creating trip-and-fall hazards. Tree roots have also damaged and clogged sewerage and storm water system pipes.
Clarion Borough Mayor Brett Whitling said all of the maple trees along South Sixth Avenue are diseased.
While Fulmer has over the years acknowledged the problems, she laments the removed trees have not been replaced with other types that might be more suitable for the locations and still provide shade and esthetic value.
"Can we form a shade tree commission?" Fulmer asked. "Could the borough encourage people to plant trees?"
Fulmer listed several places in town where she believes trees would improve the appearance of the area.
Audience member Jim Crooks said borough council considered a shade tree commission when he served on council several years ago.
Pennsylvania's borough code does allow council, by ordinance, to form a shade tree commission.
The commission can make and enforce ordinances (with the approval of council) regulating the care and protection of shade trees, including the exclusive care, custody and control of shade trees and authorization to plant, transplant, remove, maintain and protect shade trees on the streets and highways in the borough.
Clarion Borough Council President Carol Lapinto pointed out the formation of a shade tree commission would likely include levying a dedicated real estate tax to fund its activities.
Council member Ben Aaron, also a member of the Clarion Borough Storm Water Authority, said increasing the number of trees in the borough is something the SWA could look at.
"Trees are fantastic at mitigating water," said Aaron.
In another "neighborhood issue," Fulmer asked if a borough resident had been cited and fined for driving his lawnmower on borough streets.
Fulmer said she had heard the man was fined $1,000 and she expressed concern other borough residents who might be traveling between properties to mow or plow snow in the winter months might be fined.
While there is a borough ordinance regulating what kind of vehicles can navigate streets and alleys, Aaron said this case involves the man using the lawn tractor for transportation more than going from one mowing job to another.
Aaron said there have been complaints about the man's use of the lawn tractor and his demeanor when confronted about it.
Clarion Borough legal counsel John Marshall said the matter is under investigation by borough police and suggested council not discuss the matter based on that status.
Borough ordinance violations are summary offenses which usually carry a maximum fine of $300 upon conviction.
In other business, council:
4Approved a change order for the contract for repairs at the Clarion Free Library adding the replacement of the plumbing wall in the amount of $2,680 and the addition of a hose bib and floor drain for the women's restroom and a bucket basin and floor drain for the men's restroom at a cost not to exceed $4,000.
4Approved the change of status for Eric Sharrar from probationary public works laborer to regular public works laborer, retroactive to Aug. 20, contingent upon his obtaining a CDL and pesticide license.