SOUTH ST. LOUIS ( - Neighbors in a South City neighborhood are concerned that the trees near their homes could cause serious damage when storms move through.

The concern comes after after a huge oak tree fell on a home near the intersection of Comstock and Decatur when weekend storms came in. The street is lined with tall oaks.

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Shirley Jacobs, who moved into the neighborhood in 1956, is one of those concerned residents.

“They’re beautiful trees but maybe they should be replaced because they are so old,” Jacobs said.

Although the trees are in front yards, and therefore on private property, St. Louis City controls them. The trees are in the “right of way” and considered the city’s trees.

“I don’t think anyone has a clear understanding of who owns the trees and what we can do to the trees,” said neighbor Libby Jiang.

City officials say residents can, with city approval, pay for tree trimming. But a city arborist must approve trimming or removal.

Trees in the entire neighborhood are now being reassessed after the oak tree caused major damage to a home.

“We'll have arborists take a look at that tree and now that the whole root system is up, kind of look at what was going on the inside of that tree,” said St. Louis Forestry Commissioner Alan Kankowski.

If a city owned tree damages property, the homeowner can contact the Citizen’s Service Bureau and file a claim, which will be handled by the St. Louis Counselor’s Office.

The city counselor will investigate and work with the homeowner and insurance company.

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