Detroit woman's prodding of city leads to dangerous tree being removed

A year after questioning - then complaining - about the tree hanging over her alley and damaging her property, Yvonne Patterson finally got results.

Prior to Monday, the homeowner was up against a tree pushing into her garage and leaning on electrical lines. She says she was also up against a city and utility company that said it was her job to handle the issue.

"We pay our taxes. We love the city of Detroit. But we want you all - just like when our taxes are due and you want the money - we want the tree down," she said. It’s damaging our property."

The large tree came down July 17.

But it first took center stage of her attention last year when she called the city to ask about the tree. It wasn't on her property, but it was damaging things that were. A major branch could be seen leaning into the shingles of her roof. 

And a large dent could be seen in the siding of the structure. However, when she phoned the city, the answer wasn't very helpful.

"The city of Detroit said they no longer cut trees down off the alley. It’s the own homeowner’s responsibility to deal with the tree, which I thought didn’t make sense because it’s on the alley," she said.

The city worker mentioned it was DTE's responsibility due to the proximity of telephone and electrical cords. But the struggles didn't stop there.

"DTE also stated that it’s the property owner's responsibility to get the trees off of their property. OK we trim some of that but you’re telling me that it’s my responsibility to take down a big old tree in the alley?" she asked. "That’s not my responsibility I can’t see me paying for that."

Then on Monday, a representative from the city made a visit. 

Rhonda Tidwell, the tree supervisor for the General Services Department with the city agreed the tree was dangerous.

"It's laying on other people’s houses, it's going through the wires, so it’s going to be removed," she said. "I can only speak for what’s going on right here, right now, and they going to take it down."

Asked what changed, she said it was reaching the right people. 

"They got to the right department. I can’t speak for who came out before and why they said what they said," she said.

After that, a city vendor was out at the site and the tree could be seen coming down.