Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DRIPPING TREES: CREEK ROAD DECLARES "VIC'TREE!"

Representing several miles of Creek Road, here in Dripping Springs, 17 property owners met with Hays County Commissioner Karen Ford last night in the home of a Creek Road resident to discuss the County’s tree clearing on Creek Road. Having witnessed the over-cutting or "skinning" of trees from other Dripping Springs roads, the property owners had quickly formed a coalition in early December to halt the cutting on their road. Since then, they have been in contact with Commissioner Ford to try and reach a reasonable solution. Their efforts culminated last night as Ford agreed that any additional tree cutting would be done by appointment only, and with the property owner present at the cutting. Residents also have the option of any necessary cutting being done by themselves or their own arborists. Further, the purpose of the cutting is limited to raising the canopy over the road, just to the maximum legal height of a truck, and to address any potential oak wilt problems not already carefully handled by the residents themselves. The previous mandated specs that required extensive cutting on both sides of the road have been abandoned.

Creek Road residents, including one whose family has owned property since the 1950s, were concerned not only by the aesthetic devastation witnessed on other roads in the area, but by the consequent safety and speeding problems created by clearing a wider swath along the roads. Supported by recent studies showing narrow streets slow traffic and reduce vehicular crashes, and the implicit correlation to rural roads framed on either side by mature trees, as well as the inherent value in protecting the charm and aesthetics of Dripping Springs roads, a principal organizer of the coalition proposed the possibility of a Scenic Roads Program for Hays County to address these very issues and, to which, Ford seemed receptive.

Ford’s outreach and attendance were appreciated by all the property owners, many of whom could remember a time when a Hays County Commissioner would never have taken the time to meet with his/her constituents in a resident’s home. Ford admitted that this was not typically how Hays County has handled things, but also indicated it was maybe time for that to change.