Diseased elms in Harrison cut down; officials defend enforcement as ‘necessary’
Harrison is calling off enforcement action on a Carlisle Street property owner after two diseased elm trees were cut down.
The trees in the 1000 block of Carlisle were infected with the highly contagious Dutch elm disease, posing a threat to other elms in the area.
The property owner removed the trees Friday, said Lindsay Fraser, supervisor of the township’s zoning and ordinance department.
That happened after the township had set an April 15 deadline, after which it was going to have the trees removed and then assess the cost and penalties against the property owner.
Township officials did not identify the property owner or provide a specific address.
Dutch elm disease is a fungal disease of elm trees that is spread by elm bark beetles.
According to Fraser, the township was made aware of the infected trees in the fall.
She said the township first gave notice to the property owner in November to remove the trees.
Officials wanted the afflicted trees removed before they begin budding, when others would become more susceptible to infection.
In response to a resident who had criticized officials for threatening action against the property owner, Commissioner Charles Dizard defended the action as necessary.
He described Dutch elm disease as “like tree flu,” which could rapidly infect others on the street, which is known for its stately elms.
Property owners are responsible for taking care of such diseased trees, he said.
“It was a very necessary public safety action,” Dizard said.