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Published: Monday, 6/2/2014

ODOT delays project over tree protest

Pettisville residents upset by plan to widen sidewalk near school


PETTISVILLE, Ohio — A controversial state project to remove dozens of trees along residential streets in Pettisville to add sidewalks and improve school crosswalks will be delayed a week to allow time to find a way to save some of the doomed trees, transportation officials said Sunday.

The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded $400,000 in federal funds through the Safe Routes to School program.

The project in the unicorporated Fulton County community was to begin today, but ODOT officials announced its delay until June 9.

During the delay, ODOT, the contractor and project designer will huddle with community members "to see how many of the 40 trees can be saved in the residential neighborhood," ODOT said in a statement.

“Most of the people involved expected some trees removed. The shock was the number of trees,” said Superintendent Stephen Switzer, who attended a town meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue. Others present included the Fulton County commissioners, school board members, and Pettisville residents.

Todd Audet, the ODOT District 2 Deputy Director, said the placement of the trees prevents the department’s compliance with the requirement that walkways be 5 feet wide.

“Because it’s federal money, we have to follow federal guidelines,” Mr. Audet said.

By the time the project is completed in October, ODOT will plant 31 trees, including the London planetree, Kentucky coffeetree, hackberry tree, and ginkgo biloba.

After community members complained, the ODOT project engineer and the contractor then determined that 12 of the trees originally marked for removal might be be saved with minor design adjustments.

Plans include tree removal on Main Street, also known as County Road 19; Oak Street; Maple Street; Summit Street; Dame Street, and County Road D.

Contact Maya Averbuch at: maverbuch@theblade.com or 419-724-6522.

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