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HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT HAS NEW CONDITIONS FOR TREE PICK-UP

It's no more Mr. Nice Guy for the Cheektowaga Highway Department.

When the town gets a request to pick up trees that have been cut down on private property, it won't respond unless the parts are tied up in small bundles, Highway Superintendent Christopher Kowal said.

"We spent more than $100,000 in unbudgeted money," Kowal told the Town Board at a recent work session.

He said he needs either an extra $100,000 and four extra employees in next year's budget, or a change in the ordinance.

The problem, Kowal says, is residents who have abused a service of the town. The town picked up trees on an emergency basis after a storm several years ago.

"We did it during the bad ice storm. People had all sorts of trouble," he said. "Now they expect it every day."

He also said some tree removal contractors are suggesting residents save $500 in removal costs, and have the town pick up the limbs.

It's costly to bring in a high lift and a dump truck to remove tree parts, he said, suggesting that the town charge residents extra to pick up the large parts.

The town ordinance allows the pickup of brush and tree parts as long as they are tied with string or twine in bundles not larger than 4 feet long and 1 foot in diameter, and weighing no more than 40 pounds.

"Do we want to get into the tree removal business?" Council Member James J. Jankowiak asked.

"No we don't. This takes at least two guys every day," Kowal said, adding that employees have been picking up tree parts instead of doing other jobs like cleaning storm sewers.

But, Kowal maintains: "You can't just ignore it because it's not going to go away."

He said the last straw came when a resident on Borden Road had an 80-foot tree removed, and was told to have the contractor remove the tree parts. He refused.

"That stuff will stay there till the cows come home," Kowal said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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