Danger stands tall in a wooded backyard near 96th and Western in Omaha. An elderly homeowner has been told to cut down dying trees. It’s part of a city-wide survey by city arborists.
Since her husband died a few weeks ago Daphne Ulveling stands alone in challenging a city order that she cut down four cottonwoods. Daphne says, " My husband recently died so my income has been greatly reduced."
Daphne says the trees lean more toward her home than north 96th. But the city labels them a menace to public safety and must come down in two months. While those cut it or else words in all caps seem firm like the paper they're written on, city tree experts say they're flexible.
City parks can allow one at a time removal and extend the deadline if the trees aren't an immediate danger. Josh Frey Omaha parks maintenance manager says, " That’s what were here for is to determine how danger it is how long we can let things go for, and work with citizens on extensions."
The city recommends property owners ordered to remove trees get five estimates. Daphne is starting that process but worries she'll end up paying thousands of dollars. One tree removal company tells Fact Finders the trees stand on a slope near a power line so the job will be difficult.
Daphne says, "I can't afford it unless they give me a period of time to pay it off. I'm sure four cottonwoods are going to be expensive."
The widow of a retired military officer Daphne knows about following orders. But the city’s demand she cut four backyard cottonwoods is one she plans to challenge.
As last resort homeowners who disagree with a tree removal order can appeal. A board will hear it,and decide if the city order should stand or not.