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Tree spared from Main St. project PDF Print E-mail
Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 18:28

Village agrees to save silver maple with liability on property owners

A tall, silver maple tree on Main Street in the Village of Belgium has been saved from the road reconstruction project.
Denis and Lila Mueller, who own property at 640 and 642 Main St., requested the village not take down the large tree on their property after the village and county began condemnation proceedings to acquire and remove it.
Ryan Mueller, Denis and Lila’s son, told the Public Works Committee in July that his father liked the tree when he bought the house behind it.
“It’s a big sentimental part for him,” he said.
Committee member Josh Borden asked who is responsible if the tree dies from the reconstruction project.
“I think the chance of the tree getting wrecked is minimal,” Ryan Mueller said.
Attorney Ed Ritger, who represented the family at the committee meeting and a Village Board meeting in August, said the Muellers are willing to be financially responsible for the future of the tree and will pay for removing it if necessary.
Ritger said homeowner’s insurance will cover incidents such as the tree falling and hurting someone.
“If they maintain a hazard and someone gets hurt, insurance will cover it,” he said.
But if someone stood under the tree during a lightning storm, that is a different issue, he said.
Village attorney Gerry Antoine agreed.
“That’s on them,” he said.
The Muellers have a $5 million umbrella insurance policy, Ritger said.
The Muellers had Nichols Tree Service of Mequon examine the tree in April. Nichols’ assessment is the silver maple is 130 to 150 years old and is 43.5 inches in diameter.
“The tree appears to be solid but we make no guarantees. This tree has a good, flared root system,” the assessment said.
Nichols said care should be taken around the tree during construction, suggesting fencing off an area around the tree to protect its root system and pruning any damaged roots.
In Nichols’ professional opinion, the tree is worth saving, according to the assessment.
“If care were to be taken around the tree, in its present condition, it is possible that this tree could outlive us,” he said.
Ryan Mueller said the family has no plans to sell its house, but any agreement with the village would be transferred to new owners.
The committee unanimously recommended the board allow the tree to stay, provided the Muellers assume responsibility for any damages it causes and cleanup if it falls or dies, covers the cost of replacing the sidewalk and relinquish the easement for the tree to the village if it dies
Village President Vickie Boehnlein clarified one of terms of the agreement.
If the loosening of soil causes the tree to fall, it’s not the village’s fault, she said.
The board approved the agreement, 6-0. Trustee Dale Pfeifer was absent.
The sidewalk will be moved slightly during reconstruction to accommodate the tree.

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