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2000 Ash trees coming down in Mundelein

posted Mar 12, 2013, 8:51 AM by Brian Donahoe   [ updated Mar 12, 2013, 8:52 AM ]

The village plans to battle beetle infestation by removing ashes from public land. 

About 2,000 ash trees in Mundelein will meet the wood chipper over the next eight years because of the dreaded emerald ash borer beetle, meaning it's likely residents will grow accustomed to seeing trees fall.

But will their property values take a hit as a result? Not likely, said Svenga Gudell, senior economist for online real estate company Zillow.

"It sounds very drastic, but given the way the village is taking care of it, I think it will limit the impact these beetles will have on home prices," she said. "They're doing this in phases. … It's not like they're chopping them all down in one day."

Officials in the northwest suburban village of 31,000 residents announced last week that they expect that nearly every ash tree — or about one-third of the trees that form the canopy — probably will be stricken by the beetles in the next three to five years, sparking plans to begin removing the trees from public property.

The village will replace each tree it fells, but the difference between a mature ash tree and a much smaller replacement could be stark. And while trees on private property will not be removed, the village wants homeowners to have their trees inspected for the invasive pest.

Mundelein is not alone in its struggle against the emerald ash borer, which attacks the vascular structure of the trees. Officials in Highland Park are debating how to pay for a program to remove more than 6,000 ash trees from public spaces and replace them. The project is expected to cost more than $1.5 million.

Even so, Gudell said most homeowners won't see their home values drop.

"If you have a piece of property that has gorgeous trees on it and a lot of the value lies in those trees, then sure, the home's value will be affected," she said. "On the other hand, you also don't want to live in a town where you're stuck with a bunch of dying trees."

Steve Kephart, of Kephart Appraisal Services in Mundelein, said he believes there are probably enough other kinds of trees unaffected by the beetle that the loss of the ash trees will not be noticeable, and therefore shouldn't affect housing prices.

Still, he said the tree-lined streets are a big part of what attracted him to the village.

"I live here because of the trees and lake," he said. "It's kind of the character of the town."

— Matthew Walberg

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