, 2014


Residents annoyed at
VDOT tree trimming

by Audrey Thomasson

IRVINGTON—Calling them “of historical and social importance,” some dozen citizens objected at last week’s town council meeting to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) systematic “trimming” of crepe myrtle trees on King Carter Drive.

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“Those trees are one of our hallmarks...a special gift to the town from special citizens,” said Fran Westbrook, who stopped the contractor from continuing to cut back the trees lining the roadway. Westbrook said the trees were not blocking any road signs or interfering with utility wires from her residence to the Tides Inn.

“Yesterday, as I drove out of Irvington, I was shocked to see that the ‘crepe maimers’ were in town,” said Katya Spicuzza, a member of the Garden Clubs of Virginia, America and the Northern Neck as well as Master Gardeners. “When these people arrive and senselessly butcher our crepe myrtles, they are depriving us of one of the great pleasures of a lovely landscape...I believe the crepe myrtles on King Carter Drive should be protected to be enjoyed by those of us who live here and those who visit our beautiful historic little village.”

According to Robert Harper, Lancaster supervisor for VDOT, the trees were trimmed using a contract crew and an arborist. He said the criteria for trimming includes clearance to see road signage for speed limits, large trucks having difficulty getting down narrow roads because limbs hit their side mirrors, and sight issues at Quails Trail. He said a 7-foot clearance is also required between bottom limbs and sidewalks for pedestrian safety.

“We have never had a visibility issue on Quails Trail,” said Jane Wells. “I don’t see a need to do this on ornamental trees.”

VDOT residency administrator David Brown said vegetation is encroaching on roadways in some areas. If VDOT doesn’t trim trees and they encroach on utility lines, “...the utility company comes in and cuts them off” across the top and sides.

Councilman Wayne Nunnally said the Village Improvement Association works hard to make the town look beautiful. “You don’t ask us first. You just do it,” he said, suggesting Harper notify each property owner before cutting on their property.

“Contracts are generated in Fredericksburg. I’d tell you when they’re coming here if I knew myself,” said Harper. “I can’t notify every property owner.”

Nunnally, who lives on King Carter, said his property has been in his wife’s family since 1800, and that nowhere on the deed does it give VDOT a right-of-way to trim trees on their property.

“Speeding isn’t because people can’t see the road signs,” said councilman Dr. Robert Westbrook. “King Carter is not a narrow road requiring trimming the tree at the curb...so a truck’s mirror doesn’t get hit.”

Both Brown and Harper said they wanted to work with the town and would pull the crews if the town wanted. The crew had not finished in town and is expected to return to cut trees and bushes along The Lane, Steamboat Road, Tavern Road and Edgewood Lane, said Harper.

Mayor Rannie Ransone said they should continue. Council agreed, saying that King Carter Drive was their only concern because of its significance to the appearance of the town.

In other business, Brown presented plans for installing sidewalks along Irvington Road, across from King Carter Drive south to the end of the commercial buildings. Council agreed to the project, which will take place sometime next year.

Council also approved a resolution of support for the Foundation for Historic Christ Church in order to solicit funding to repair roof damage from Hurricane Sandy.


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