Perry City Council discusses storm cleanup, tree ordinance during Sept. 8 meeting

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
Tree limbs and debris builds up in the parking lot on the corner of Harold Bailey Way and West Third Friday, Aug. 14.

The storm cleanup discussion continued during the Perry City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The normal Monday meeting was bumped back to Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday. 

“I can’t believe we’re two days out from a month since the storm, but I’ve got to give a shout out to Jack and Josh, as well as John and his crew, for all the work they’ve put in over the last month cleaning up all the trees and all the parks and getting stuff close to what normal could be,” City Administrator Sven Peterson said in his administrator report.

“A tremendous shout out,” Council Member Barb Wolling added.

Peterson said crews are doing a final sweep through town for those who have called in debris piles. A Public Service Announcement from the city recommended residents use the Dog Park parking lot debris pile, as the Campground parking lot is full.

More:City of Perry updates residents on storm debris pick up, dump sites

Tree limbs and debris being dumped near the Perry Dog Park Friday, Aug. 14.

“I think it was inching in on 65,000 cubic yards. Just an incredible amount of debris. Everyone I’ve talked to has never seen anything like this, to this extent,” Peterson said during the council meeting.

Wolling asked if the plan is to chip the trees and branches in the debris piles. Peterson said the state will have a contract with a company to come in and pay for all of the chipping of the debris piles throughout the state for the communities who want it. He added that the city will let the state bid out the contract and take care of the chipping for them. The state will also haul it off.

Council Member Chuck Schott said there is still of stuff hanging from trees around town.

Peterson said Butler and Josh Wuebker, Deputy Public Works Director, have been out doing assessments of trees in the right of way.

“They’re looking for hanging branches and trees that need to come down, trees that need to be trimmed. That’s part of the FEMA reimbursement exercise. We have to have photos and GPS coordinates for every tree that has something done,” Peterson said.

Once the data and photos are collected, Peterson said the city will have tree contractors come in to take care of the hanging branches and other items. 

Later in the meeting, the Perry City Council passed all three readings for a temporary tree ordinance to allow the city more time to come up with solutions for trees in the right of way.

“With passage of this ordinance it would prohibit any person, firm or corporation from planting or causing to be planted any tree, shrub or other planting, excluding grass from the Public Right of Way, otherwise referred to as the ‘parking’ and or ‘ROW’ or the street. All trees in existence prior to the passage of the ordinance, providing that they were not declared a nuisance, would remain and abide by the remaining sections of this chapter,” the ordinance read.

City Administrator Sven Peterson speaks during the Perry City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Peterson stressed that the ordinance is not a permanent one.

“Staff and I are really just asking for a stop-gap to be able to study this further before we have the opportunity for a lot of trees to be replanted into the right of way yet this fall,” Peterson said.

He added that city is open to hearing concerns and ideas related to trees in the right of way. Having a stop-gap measure in place, he added, will allow the city more time to study the issue and how to move forward.

“Not only because of the issues they can cause during a storm, but also just ongoing concerns with maintenance and upkeep of those trees. The high cost of the removal of those trees. As well as the effects on our sidewalks, our streets and our sewer system,” Peterson said.

Another concern is line of sight at intersections. Peterson added that the conversation could also turn to permitting trees in the right of way and more.

“Really just want to give us a little bit of time to be able to have that conversation to be able to move forward, hopefully next year, with a better plan,” he said.

Council Member Randy McCaulley said it is important that the city identifies the ordinance as a temporary one. Though one concern he had was if the council approves the stop-gap that they not forget to go back and fix the stop-gap.

Schott suggested adding a date into the temporary ordinance so the council will go back and fix the ordinance.

The motion was amended to reflect a March 31, 2021 date in the ordinance. The council waived the rules and passed all three readings of the ordinance during the Sept. 8 meeting.

The Perry City Council meets on Tuesday, Sept. 8 in the Towncraft Building.