Controversy over removal of large tree in Affton

AFFTON, Mo. – Controversy surrounds a large tree outside of an elderly woman’s home in Affton.

The tree belongs to St. Louis County and the woman and her family says the county is dragging its feet in taking care of the tree.

“It’s a mess; it’s a mess,” said 84-year-old LaVerne Kammer about a large pin oak tree just outside her Affton home on Brittleigh Terrace.

The tree was there when LaVerne and her husband moved in back in 1992.

Now, LaVerne and her family say the tree is a problem.

Laverne, along with her daughter-in-law Diana Kammer, and others, clean up what drops from the tree.

LaVerne’s family fears she could slip and fall.

“She is still able to set her trash out and get her mail. And she’s crossing this driveway every day and she can’t walk well. My biggest worry is her falling and breaking her hip,” said Diana.

The tree is in the St. Louis County right of way and belongs to the county.

“It concerns me if there would be a storm, if lightning would hit this tree, my house would be gone. The tree would fall on my house,” LaVerne said.

Diana said she first reached out to the county some two and a half years ago asking for the tree to be removed. She got no resolution. More recently, she requested that the tree be trimmed.

Diana said county workers trimmed other trees in the neighborhood but not her mother-in-law’s. Last Friday, Diana said county workers came and trimmed some small low-lying branches on the tree. But she said more needs to be done.

“I realize we don’t have the only tree in St. Louis County but when there’s an issue, I think that should move to the top of the list,” she said.

While we were with Diana, she received an email from St. Louis County saying the tree doesn’t qualify to be removed.

David Wrone, the public information manager for the county highway and public works departments, said the tree is, for the most part, healthy with the exception of some branches.

He said workers will return with a bucket truck to do some additional trimming.

“Residents should know that we take this seriously and that we do look at each complaint on a tree by tree basis as quickly as we can,” Wrone said. “But there is a protocol and a policy that we follow.”

Laverne responded: “Come and take some of the tree away. Trim it.”

Wrone said crews have a backlog of 160 trees to be trimmed and he isn’t sure when workers will get back to LaVerne’s tree.

Laverne and her family hope it’s sooner rather than later.

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