Penn considers cutting trees for road widening

PENN – Penn Township supervisors want Kelton Road widened by a foot on each side, but they are divided on what to do about trees that stand in the way.

During the Sept. 5 township meeting, lengthy discussion was given to the removal of a maple tree and two very large walnut trees around 215 Kelton Road, that are in the way of the planned paving.

As the trees stand, they are right at the road edge forcing drivers to shift toward the center of the narrow street, creating a dangerous situation, particularly for trucks and school buses.

The trees are in the road right of way, but they are also on private property. According to supervisors Robin Marcello and Victor Mantegna the state’s township code authorizes the board to require the owner to have the trees removed at his expense.

To get the job done, the board voted three to two to go ahead and contract to cut the trees and grind down the stumps at a cost of $3,000.

“There’s no doubt this needs to be done. Then how do we pick and choose who we do it for and who we don’t,” said supervisor Curtis Mason. Mason voted with Supervisors William Finnen and Tom Barlow to have the township cut the trees, but he did so reluctantly. “I voted for this because it’s a dangerous situation, not because I agree with it.”

The issue is more involved because the tree roots may run under the road. Pulling out the tree stumps and roots could undermine the road and driveways, but grinding the stumps only leaves the roots under the road to eventually rot, and possibly cause the road to fail. The board decided that pulling out the roots was not acceptable, but leaving the ground down stumps will probably make the remaining bank uneven. The township firmly resisted doing any dirt work on the bank, which is on private property. That work is being left for the property owner.