Cypress trees planted by city a nuisance for Baton Rouge homeowner

Source: Donna Belanger
Source: Donna Belanger
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A beautification project in Baton Rouge launched more than a decade ago has grown into an eyesore for some homeowners who live off Stumberg Lane. They claim the cypress trees are ruining their property, and they want the city to remove them.

There's no question Donna Belanger's property is well maintained. Her 40-year-old family home is shaded by several fully grown trees, but there are six cypress trees just beyond her property line that have created an eyesore in her yard.

"I knew what it was and they first invaded my little flower bed here and I'd dig them up, go around it, clip one side, pull them up. I thought, oh well, I got rid of that one, but then they started multiplying like rabbits," Belanger said.

The stumps, or cypress knees, Belanger is referring to are well known to a lot of people in Louisiana. She has spraypainted them orange to make them stand out. They grow up out of the ground, sometimes far away from the tree itself. There are so many of them, Belanger says she stopped counting a long time ago.

"They are out of control. You can walk on the grass and find new ones that weren't visible yet. Every time you walk, there is a new one," Belanger said.

Because the trees are on city property, Belanger can't do anything about it. Belanger says she contacted her councilman, Buddy Amoroso, back in April. She says her complaint was supposed to be passed on to the city maintenance department, but she has not heard anything more. "I requested that they ask them to contact me, at least let me know what their plans are, and I've gotten no response," Belanger said.

Councilman Amoroso shared with 9News a letter he sent to EBR Maintenance Director Kyle Huffstickler on Tuesday. In it, Amoroso highlights a few dates he said he sent emails and inquiries about resolving the matter. In the letter, the councilman points out he too has not gotten a response.

"I think the city should come and take the trees down. Whether they decide to follow up with the people who planted them, that's not my problem," Belanger said.

They aren't pretty, but Belanger is more concerned about her property value. She says the knees have ruined lawn mower blades and now they are growing under the siding of her house. She says termites are also a real concern.

"One thing, it's going to reduce our resale value. No one is going to buy a home with this issue," Belanger said.

Belanger says she plans to take legal action if necessary.

A spokesperson for the City of Baton Rouge says Huffstickler met a contractor at the property Thursday afternoon to get an estimate on how much it would cost to remove the cypress trees.

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