As Chairperson of the Wenonah Shade Tree Commission (STC) I, occasionally receive phone calls from Wenonah homeowners that starts with “I have a tree that belongs to the Borough by my sidewalk ….”.

In town, we have “clear zones” which is the area located between the sidewalk and the curb.  The clear zone includes part of your property.  Put simply, when you bought the property (lot), you bought the clear zone and all trees located therein.

The Shade Tree Commission was formed and empowered (Chapter 53 of the Code) to regulate the care and disposition of any tree located in the clear zone.  That regulation may include planting, trimming or removal – functions which the Shade Tree Commission performs – but also may be done by homeowners only after approval by the STC.  The basis for the creation and enabling of the STC was to provide a means to insure Wenonah remains a shade tree oasis and the residents receive oversight by an independent regulating body.  Pursuant to Chapter 53-9, it is prohibited for residents to remove or conducting extensive street tree trimming without prior approval.

Although we are an independent Commission, we hold 7 meetings a year.  The public is welcome to attend and comment or raise any issue relevant to our jurisdiction.  In addition, I receive dozens of phone calls annually where residents ask to trim, remove or plant trees at their expense.   Permits for those activities are issued at no cost to the residents. The permit review process includes such issues as potential utility conflicts (water, sewer, gas and electric), plantings and proper pruning techniques, and required insurance coverage by tree contractors.

The Borough Council presently provides an annual budget of $12,400 for the STC, and that amount includes emergent tree removals, trimming, plantings, training and state related administrative costs. With upwards of 2000 street trees in the Borough, one can imagine the limitations on our efforts.

All nine STC members are volunteers who dedicate their time to maintaining Wenonah’s tree canopy and responding to resident concerns. Together we must be stewards of our street trees and cooperate in their care.

Gary Odenbrett