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Latrobe council might reconsider pharmacy owner's request to remove tree

| Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 5:24 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Latrobe council voted against cutting down a tree on city property next to the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy on Ligonier Street. Owner Sue Schropp said the tree is a nuisance that blocks about five parking spaces for workers because it drops sticky, yellow sap globs and has attracted lots of bees. Council had a split vote, with Mayor Rosie Wolford breaking the tie and voting to keep the tree. Schropp had Wolford come see the tree and now, council may reconsider the measure at its next meeting. Schropp said she plans to donate a new tree in the old one’s place.

While employees are inside the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy on Ligonier Street in Latrobe, a tree outside the business has become a growing nuisance.

Owner Sue Schropp started asking city officials in April about removing the tree, which is about 10 feet tall. She offered to pay to cut it down, but council declined the offer.

The pharmacy's owner for 18 years, she said that when the tree was small, it was no problem. Now, however, it drops sticky yellow sap and attracts bees, affecting the five parking spaces used by employees, Schropp said. Once the sap sticks to cars, it's hard to get off, especially after baking in the sun, she said.

“If you leave that sit on your car, it affects the paint,” Schropp said.

Mayor Rosie Wolford and a few other council members will reconsider the tree's fate at Monday's council meeting.

“She offered to plant another tree in its place,” Wolford said. “It's decrepit-looking, and it's full of bees. ... It's an example of trying to work with a business owner.”

Public works director Joe Bush said at the June 9 council meeting that he did not want to see a healthy tree cut down.

“It's a perfectly good, healthy tree, and it's right near the Westmoreland County Transit Authority bus shelter,” he said. “I just don't like the request. I just can't see cutting down a perfectly good tree when you can park one space over.”

When a vote was taken at the June meeting, council was split on the decision. Council Members Julie Bisi, Trisha Caldwell-Cravener and Gerry Baldonieri voted to keep the tree. Mike Skapura, Madalyn Smith and Fabian Giovannagelo voted to cut it down.

Wolford cast the tie-breaking vote, saying, “I hate when this happens.” The mayor voted to keep the tree.

“No, I can't cut down a healthy tree. I'm sorry,” she said.

Later that week, Schropp invited the mayor to look at the tree in person.

“I'm not against trees. That's crazy,” Schropp said. Wolford said the visit helped her to better understand Schropp's concerns.

“I'm a big proponent of trees. It just doesn't look completely healthy to me,” the mayor said. “I was going off the advice of people who had seen it.”

Solicitor Jim Kelly said the measure can be reconsidered as long as the prevailing side makes a motion. Wolford said those council members voting “no” originally would be willing to bring up the issue at the next meeting.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660.

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