Lehi, Utah – At least 300 trees in Lehi’s Olympic Park neighborhood will be removed.
“I’ve got a son that has asthma,” said Jordan Jensen. “We are known in Utah for having terrible air. This is not going to contribute to a healthy lifestyle for him.”
According to Jensen, anywhere from 3-15 percent of his home value is tied to these trees. “To be totally honest and selfish, I think that it’s most important to my property value, frankly,” said Jensen.
The city is removing trees they planted decades ago, which officials say are now a liability. “The roots have grown underneath the sidewalk [and] have raised as much as three or four inches in some places,” said Cameron Boyle, the assistant city administrator. “And that’s to the extent that we can’t just go in and shave down those sidewalks to make it level, and so we’ve got accessibility issues. We’ve got trip hazards.”
Strollers and wheelchairs can’t use Lehi’s sidewalks, plus the large tree canopies make it hard for drivers to see, Boyle said. “We value trees,” he said. “We want to see trees in our community, the beauty that it brings to the streets. We just need them to be in the proper place and the proper size of tree for the area.”
Residents like Jensen don’t think getting rid of all the trees at once is the best solution. “I understand that there’s damage being done to the actual infrastructure put on by the city,” he said. “However, a one-size-fits-all approach to city legislation is really not what anyone wants.”
Lehi residents now have the opportunity to get a voucher from the city to take to a greenhouse, pick out an approved tree and plant it.