City officials agree to remove leaning tree after Franklin veteran expresses frustration

FRANKLIN, Ind. – A veteran said he needed help getting his city officials to take down a tree next to his property.

Terry Rogers lives along a railroad track in Franklin, and as the trains pass by his home every day, he finds himself preoccupied by another sight: a tree that's leaning towards a power line next to his property.

"I figure the worse it gets, the better chance it's got of falling over," Rogers said.

After years trying to get someone to assess the tree, Rogers said the city's arborist came to see it earlier this year. He said the arborist agreed it should be taken down, but then he waited for the removal for months.

"I got tired. I figured, four years is long enough," Rogers said.

Rogers said the tree first came to attention during a storm, when he observed its roots moving as the tree shook.

"I was looking out the kitchen window and I could actually see the roots going up out of the ground," Rogers said.

FOX59 took Rogers' case to city of Franklin officials, who responded via a series of emails and declined an interview request.

The city's arborist explained in an email, in part, that he "didn't realize that they city had a right of way" in the railroad easement next to Rogers' property, but that once it was discovered he assessed the tree and believed it "needs to come down in the future," but there are "totally dead trees that are a higher risk and hazard to the public." He said the tree is in fair condition and its canopy does not appear to be stressed, so it was not considered a high priority. He also blamed the delay on a broken city truck, which had to be sent to Indianapolis for repairs twice this summer.

An independent tree expert told FOX59 that if a tree is leaning and its roots are exposed, that doesn't necessarily mean the tree poses a danger. He said a closer inspection should show the state of the tree and its danger of falling.

After a follow-up, the city's Street Commissioner Brett Jones said that while the city does not consider the tree a danger, they would commit to removing it for Rogers by September 15.

City officials also said Rogers' personal property needs to be removed from next to the tree, which he told FOX59 he would be happy to do. Rogers said he's more concerned about why it took so long to get to this point.

"I don't want to see anybody hurt. I think I've got a right to try to get something done," Rogers said.