Residents say Richmond’s dead trees pose threat, criticize lack of response

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond residents are worried about the lack of response their complaints about dead trees in neighborhoods have been getting from the city.

“You can see where multiple large branches have fallen off,” Eli Christman, a Richmond resident, told 8News.

Christman says a large branch from a dying tree already struck his rental.

“There was at least one 25-foot branch that landed on multiple wires and it pulled the bolt away from our house,” he said.

In October of last year another big branch dropped on a Mercedes parked out in the area. No one was hurt but Christman fears that could be next. He also worries the tree, which is hanging over several power lines, could knock out power to the entire neighborhood.

“The power lines go from pole to pole and pole to house,” Christman explained.

Nearly a year ago, Christman reported his concerns to the property management company, Dominion Energy and requested service through the city’s 311 system.

“Nothing came of that,” he told 8News.

8News confirmed Friday that the tree is on private property and the city can’t touch it because it’s the responsibility of the property owner.

“Six months,” Christman said.

But one block up, the city was supposed to remove another dead tree six months ago after part of it toppled in a storm.

“It came down and it landed on both houses,” Tara Molohon said.

Neighbors put a ticket in the 311 system and the city marked it for removal, but never returned.

“I live here,” Molohon explained. “I don’t want to have to worry about coming home one day and the tree is on my house.”

At a recent Richmond Audit Committee meeting, Councilwoman Kim Gray said she’s been fielding numerous complaints about 311 and a lack of response.

“People have to constantly re-enter their 311 requests for trees and sidewalks and everything else,” Gray told 8News.

The city’s 311 director Peter Breil said that trees and sidewalks generate the largest backlog. 8News was told requests are prioritized based on public safety and high traffic areas.

Breil added the city’s urban forestry department has been working through a significant list of trees this year, removing 543, pruning 533 and planting 713 trees through August. 8News also learned that there’s no need to re-enter requests for service as 311 will never delete a service request.

As for Christman and his tree on private property, the property management company thought Dominion had taken care of it. After 8News’ calls, we’re told it’s on the radar and Dominion will be out there soon.

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