Chesterfield looking to curb sweet gum tree mess

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CHESTERFIELD, MO (KPLR) – If you have a sweet gum tree in your yard you know there is nothing very sweet about them, thanks to those thorny balls they drop in the yard. But in Chesterfield, the city is trying to do something to make them less messy.
It's not the trees that are the culprit of course. It's these angry little balls of thorns they drop that can hurt like the dickens if you step on one barefoot and can send you tumbling even if you have on shoes.

And that brings us to Tuesday night's city council meeting during which one councilman on behalf of a resident asked whether something more needs to be done by the city to protect people from the hazards created by sweet gum trees.
The city has already made moves in that direction. Last May it declared sweet gum trees a nuisance.

But one of the suggestions made last night is for the city to declare sweet gum trees not just a nuisance, but also a hazard, giving the city the right to cut down sweet gum trees without waiting for a request as long as they are on the public right away.
Sweet gum trees on private property would not be affected.

There were also a few other suggestions last night and some have led to confusion, especially the one that could require homeowners to remove sweet gum balls on the sidewalk or street in front of their house.

The public services director says the law already makes it illegal for homeowners to blow yard debris of any kind onto the sidewalk or street.

But there appears to be a gray area about the homeowner`s responsibility for sweet gum balls that just happen to fall on the walk or the street.

None of these suggestions have been turned into legislation, but the council decided it would be good for the planning and public works committee to discuss them at their next meeting which is May 21st.