Community Issues

Trees


Everyone would agree that a major part of the charm of Kingsville is the trees. Lining Jerusalem and other roads, they give a nice feeling as one drives down these roads, and it has been shown that a close-in canopy of trees tends to slow down drivers. A feeling of an "open" road causes one to let up on caution and bear down on the peddle.

Unfortunately, there are many factors that are causing us to lose these trees - all the doing of mankind, not some natural force like beetles or blight.

  1. Some cut trees from their yards out of fear that they may fall on their houses. I've even had a neighbor who was told by a prospective insurance company that they would not write an insurance policy unless they had the trees "topped". Many places have laws that require a permit, and a reason, before a tree can be removed.
  2. Local governments (Baltimore County, in our case) sometimes remove roadside trees because they pose a danger to cars, either from cars hitting them, or the trees falling and hitting a car. While fighting the removal of trees along Cromwell Bridge Road several years ago, we found that the arborist that BGE hired, and even the one the State provided, would often declare a tree as a "hazard" based on visual inspection, and recommended removing it. It was stated at the time that, if an arborist declared that a tree was "safe" and it them fell and injured someone, they could lose their license. Anyone would error on the side of caution in that case and recommend that a questionable tree be removed. (If a doctor tells you that you are in good health and you drop dead the next day, do they lose their license?)
  3. The utility companies have an obligation to trim trees to protect the lines (power, telephone, cable TV) from damage. But as we found in the Cromwell Bridge Road case, they went overboard on cutting, and blamed the US Government mandated "standard", which the industry itself had written. Since I had worked for many years in the development of national standards (in a different industry), I have some understanding how that process works. In the case of the claimed "standard" that applied to "transmission lines", such as the one from the Raphel Rd substation going northwest over the old golf course and park, BGE was going far beyond what was required. While it only required keeping all branches a certain distance from the lines, they choose to "clear-cut" everything from beneath and 75 ft on either side of the power lines. The "standard" never required that.
    In the case of a place like Jerusalem Rd, we are talking about local distribution lines. We all know that BGE must protect these and are really upset when a storm (or a bad driver) takes out our power and we have to live without Internet for a couple hours.

I also note that many of my friends object loudly when someone wants to put up a cell tower, but they don't seem to object to all of the ugly power wires and poles that line every road (and often on both sides). Sometimes you barely notice the cell tower behind all the power poles.

If we want to save the trees along the roadsides, we need to get rid of the utility lines. After every major storm, when thousands are without power, there is always that cry of "why can't the wires be put underground", and the equally loud cry from BGE and Verizon and others that "we can't afford it". I'd like to know how much it costs them every time a driver plows into a pole and BGE has to send out 6 big trucks and a dozen workers to replace the pole. Not to mention the aftermath of a big storm.

To anyone who thinks that all utilities can't be put underground, I suggest that we send them to Germany and tell them to drive around big cities, small villages, and the countryside for a week and keep a detailed record of every above-ground utility distribution wire that they see. I will give them a 3x5 card and challenge them to fill it. (By the way, they have to use the backside of the card to record every pot-hole they hit.) Even in the old East Germany part, they have managed to put virtually every wire underground, so there is fewer reasons for any tree to be removed. And notice the walking/bike path alongside this typical country road in Germany, miles from the nearby towns that it connects. Imagine Sunshine Ave or Jerusalem Rd looking like this!



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Updated 10 Jan 2017 by MAP