Historical trees spark debate

December 03, 1996


Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - Some Sharpsburg Town Council members and residents said Monday night they were concerned that despite efforts to preserve historic trees along Main Street, some property owners, including the mayor, had received permits to remove trees anyway.

Town resident Denise Troxell told Mayor Ron Milburn at the mayor and Council's monthly meeting that she was disappointed in him for getting permits to remove four trees in front of the historic Grove House at Town Square, including going to a high-ranking official in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to appeal to have one tree removed.

Troxell asked what the Council's legal rights were concerning the trees, but Council members didn't seem clear on their rights concerning the trees.


Town and state officials had discussed preserving several of the historic trees along Main Street while the road is being renovated. Renovations include sidewalk and curb reconstruction, water and sewer line reconstruction, road resurfacing and landscaping.

Some Council members said they were unaware of the permits being granted to remove the trees and wanted to know why one state agency had granted the permits after several state agencies had agreed to preserve the trees.

Councilman Russell Weaver called the ongoing confusion and conflict surrounding the historic trees a "public relations disaster."

He told Milburn it was the mayor's job to "carry out the wants and wishes of the Council even if we're wrong."

"I've got no right to tell you what to do on your property and you've got no right to tell me what to do with mine," Milburn responded.

Milburn said it was to the public's benefit that hazardous trees be removed along Main Street. As a property owner, he is liable for the hazards those four trees cause, he said.

Town Council members Weaver, Ralph Hammond, Sidney Gale and George Kesler voted to send a letter to state officials objecting to the lack of communication concerning the trees and the Council's disappointment in a state agency issuing permits to remove some trees.

Council members Don Kable and Matt Ryan were absent.

When Milburn said he would be responsible for replacing the trees with one-inch diameter trees, Gale said the town would be happy to relieve him of that responsibility and replace the trees in Town Square.

"This project has been a big mistake. When they get done with the square Lord knows what it's going to look like," Weaver said.

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