EAST WENATCHEE — Fifty-eight oak trees in Fancher Heights could get a reprieve — if individual property owners assume the legal liability for the trees in front of their homes. If they don’t, the trees will come down next month to stop damage to sidewalks and passing vehicles.
“We’re not an evil board ripping out beautiful trees,” said Fancher Heights Homeowners Association Board member Pamela Woodard. “We know the trees will continue to cause damage.”
Once the trees are removed, Douglas County has agreed to do a one-time repair of the broken sidewalks.
But since some property owners have argued against it, Woodard said the board is offering an alternative for them.
Property owners who don’t want to lose the tree or trees in front of their home can opt to sign a written agreement stating that they will maintain the trees, repair any damages caused by them, and be financially liable for any injuries or damage blamed on the trees in the future.
Woodard said the association has been dealing with problems stemming from the trees along a quarter-mile stretch of Fancher Heights Boulevard for years.
Sidewalks have had to be repaired numerous times after being damaged by roots, and recently a sprinkler system was broken by roots.
School buses, city snowplows and delivery trucks have all been damaged by low-hanging branches, and Woodard said the air conditioner on her motor home was punctured as the vehicle was being driven on the street.
The tree issue came to a head earlier this year, though, when an elderly woman visiting someone in the neighborhood tripped over buckled sidewalk and fell. She talked to a lawyer and the association was worried she might sue over the incident.
When it became a legal issue for the organization, Woodard said, there was no other option but to cut the trees down.
After learning of the plan to cut the trees, some residents of the neighborhood circulated a petition to try and convince the association’s board of directors to reverse its decision. That’s when the board offered the alternative of property owners taking over responsibility for the trees.
Woodard said the association plans to impose a special assessment in the future to pay to replace any cut trees with ones better suited for roadside medians.