Salisbury Homeowner Won't Have to Plant Tree Over Gas Line

The Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners granted homeowner a waiver from having to replace a shade tree because it posed a hazard to underground utility lines.

A Salisbury Township couple won't have to replace a tree on their property because it would be on top of a gas line and could pose a hazard, the said last week.

Bruce and Cynthia Schmauch, of 931 Bridle Path Road, asked the board for a waiver from the township's shade tree ordinance.

"A crew came out to look at grinding the stump out, but when they looked at it they said they couldn't do it because all of the utility lines were going through the center and parts of the outskirts of the tree," Bruce Schmauch said.

He said there were two PPL lines, a Verizon line and a UGI line running underground where the tree was supposed to be planted.

Schmauch said he considered planting the tree nearby, but was told by a UGI engineer there needed to be five feet of clearance from the gas line.

"But there is only six feet between where they say their gas line is and the curb," he said.

Schmauch said they'll have clearance of a foot or less "because they can't tell us the size of the gas line that's down there and exactly where it is."

"I have a special aversion to the gas line," Schmauch said.

"I was born and raised in Allentown at 536 N. 13th Street. That house and that whole row left us a little while ago. I lived there for 27 years. My childhood home was blown up by a gas line."

Township Engineer Dave Tettemer said, "Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation we run into. Some of these utlities may have even been put in after the street trees were."

Tettemer asked if Schmauch, would plant the tree on his property, which would be slightly outside the right-of-way.

"The object object with planting street trees was always to add shade and create a suburban effect on the area," he said.

Township Manager Randy Soriano reminded the board the issue was whether there was enough space on the public right-of-way to plant the tree.

"I don't think you can make him plant a tree on private property. It doesn't become a shade tree, it becomes a private tree," he said.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Sandy Nicolo cautioned the boad might be setting a precedent for residents on that side of the street.

Soriano said just because one neighbor gets a variance doesn't mean others will. Each situation will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Commissioner Robert Martucci Jr., said a photograph of the tree "looks like it's pushing the curb out. So I don't think it's a good ideas to be planting trees that close."



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