First Avenue trees to be removed in February

Power line company to cut down 36 trees, hold public meeting next month to explain controversial plan

    The Village of Grafton is preparing for a major tree removal project along First Avenue for February.
    “We are looking at a significant tree-clearing process coming up for 2018. We’ve worked closely with American Transmission Company to review the leaseholds and unfortunately the village has little say in the matter,” Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said, during Monday’s Village Board meeting. “ATC will be mailing an informational letter to property owners living along First Avenue this week.”
    Last February, ATC marked approximately 83 trees on the boulevard of First Avenue underneath the transmission lines for removal.
    The company owns and operates a double-circuit line in the village that runs north to south along the boulevard of First Avenue between Rose Street and Wisconsin Avenue. The 1.6-mile corridor has approximately 130 trees in the 40-foot easement on village-owned property.
    According to spokeswoman Alissa Braatz of ATC, 36 trees are planned to be removed from the wire zone below the transmission lines, which is significantly less than the 83 trees that were marked in February.
    After the trees were initially marked, the village immediately contacted the company to find a way to keep the trees.
    Village of Grafton Director of Public Works Amber Thomas said most of the trees on First Avenue are crabapples that were planted on purpose because they wouldn’t exceed the height of the lines.
    The village is concerned there might be a discrepancy in the easement documents between the village and the company, which could impact a number of trees that are more than 40 feet tall.
    “ATC will have their real estate specialist consult with village staff regarding the requested surveys and final clarification of the easement boundaries,” Thyes said. “They are being active in that request put forward by the village.”
    The village has also applied for several grants from ATC to assist in the cost for the project.
    “The silver lining, if there is any here, is that the village will be receiving a full reimbursement for stump-grinding services that would be contracted out to the tune of about $9,000,” Thyes said. “They also have awarded the village several grants for replacement vegetation to the tune of $6,500. ATC did strongly recommend that the village apply again in 2018 for more grant funding as the programs will be continuing.”
    ATC will be holding an open house meeting for residents from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Grafton Public Library.
    “I’ve gotten a lot of calls from residents over the months concerned about what they’re going to do. I think it’s important for the residents to hear what their plans are and to give feedback,” Thomas said during a November Public Works meeting.  
    According to the company’s plans, it could return within the next five years to remove more trees.
    “It’s just 36 trees for now, but we’ll see what happens next time,” Thomas said.



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