Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Dead tree debate taking too long, could have saved homeowner money

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BATON ROUGE - A dead tree is a topic of debate between the city-parish and a property owner for more than two months.

Kim Scarton's records show that she called the city-parish's 311 call center about a dead tree behind her fence line on June 26, 2019, and took down a work order. But it wasn't until 2 On Your Side got involved did she receive an answer from the city-parish about who it thinks should take responsibility.

"We requested removal, we got a work order number and they said they'd be in touch," said Scarton.

A couple of weeks went by. Scarton says her neighbor called the city-parish after a tree behind her house was damaged during Tropical Storm Barry. On July 15, 2019, she says a representative from the South Drainage Department came out to investigate and told her the trees were not on their properties, but in the city-parish servitude. On July 23, 2019, two city-parish arborists visited Scarton's home.

"We were told they're on city property and they'll be recommended for removal,"  Scarton said.

After following up a few times, Scarton said she didn't hear anything. Then on August 24, 2019, a branch fell from the tree onto Scarton's roof. Estimates to repair the damage exceed $3,500.

"So we contacted the city the following Monday to let them know this is an urgent matter, we've been telling them the tree is a safety risk," she said. "It's damaging our home, it's damaging our fence, no response."

Scarton says she heard from the city-parish Tuesday, Aug. 27, and was told a surveyor would be visiting to take a look.

"They've had more than enough time to address it," Scarton said.

Wednesday, the City-Parish responded to Scarton's situation. It says after doing its "due diligence through inspections and surveying," it has found the tree is on a private servitude. The city-parish says it's still working to determine which side of the private property line the tree exists.

The answer is shocking to Scarton who had no idea there was a private servitude and drainage ditch behind her home. She's not sure how to proceed next, as she waits to learn more from the city-parish.

Scarton says if she had known this information weeks ago, she might have had an opportunity to save her home from being damaged.


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