Mayor seeks to protect Niles trees from utility removal plans

Published 8:38 am Tuesday, November 23, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin wants the city council to act quickly to protect a number of Niles trees.
Apparently, Indiana-Michigan Power Co., formerly known as American Electric Power or AEP, is planning to continue into Michigan a program of tree removal under way in Indiana, said Neil Coulston, Niles' public works director.
Coulston said he was contacted in person last week at City Hall by an employee of Trolio's Stump and Utility Inventory, who told him she was in town surveying trees near the utility company's power transmission lines in the city.
Coulston said the surveyor told him the Indiana-Michigan's plan is to clear 14 feet on either side of transmission trees, cutting the trees down, not simply trimming them, and leaving the debris for the city to clean up.
Later in the day, the surveyor returned to Coulston's office and left a list of some 30 locations where trees would be removed, "and many of those places are entire streets, not just single addresses," he said.
That list includes removing trees on:
 Merrifield from 13th to 17th streets.
17th from Superior to Lake streets.
Wayne from Fourth to 13th streets.
13th from Wayne to Merrifield.
Second from Pokagon to Wayne.
He said some of those trees have been marked with an X, and others with dots.
He said the list for removal includes all maples, sycamores, locusts, poplars, spruce, elms, walnuts in the transmission line areas.
McCauslin asked Coulston and Utilities Department Manager Jim Lehmkuhl to contact officials at Indiana-Michigan Power and attempt to learn more about their plans.
Coulston said he's done that with little success. He said he hasn't be able to get in touch with the Trolio's employee, either.
In the meantime, McCauslin will seek approval from the city council of a resolution that requires the council's "express consent" before any tree is removed by the utility company.
The utility company's 28-foot wide tree removal plan "would devastate those tree-lined streets," said Terry Eull, Niles city administrator.