BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — An inconspicuous looking tree on a South Buffalo street is right in front of Karen Vitaris’ house, but it’s on city property.
Vitaris says she rakes the leaves and does her best to maintain her aging sewer line, which the tree’s roots are slowly destroying.
“The tree needs to be taken down, it truly does. I like the tree myself, but it is not worth all the money issues it is causing me,” Vitaris, a Zittel Street homeowner, said.
As the roots damage and clog Vitaris’ sewer connector, she said she’s had raw sewage back up into her basement, even emerge through her sump pump, which needs to be replaced.
To make the situation worse, the tree’s large branches harbor carpenter ants, which are slowly dropping onto her roof and destroying her home.
“The roof had actual ants get into it, and we had to have the tiles taken off of the roof and the wood replaced because there was a hole, kill off all the ants in there, and then re-tar the roof.”
In Buffalo, the sewer line from a homeowner’s house to the connection under the street is the responsibility of the owner. A Department of Public Works spokesperson said there are ecological reasons for preserving older trees, which is why they avoid removing healthy trees.
“The tree is in fair condition, so they are not going to take it down, and they are going to come and prune it again, but they have pruned it before, and that’s not solving the plumbing issue, or the carpenter ant issue,” Vitaris said.