LIMA — After nearly a year of contemplation, the city has a plan in place to deal with sidewalks damaged by its own trees.Lima City Council's Public Works Committee moved to recommend a plan to City Council that would have Lima homeowners pay 75 percent of the cost of the repair to sidewalks damaged by trees inside the city-owned tree lawn. The city would pay the remaining 25 percent with the total city investment capped at $10,000 a year.The subject first came up almost a year ago when a resident complained about having to pay for damage by trees she did not have the right to cut down. Trees in the city tree lawn — the space between the street and sidewalk — are the property of the city, but the sidewalks are the responsibility of homeowners, even when they are damaged by the roots of the city's trees.Councilor Teresa Adams had earlier proposed having the city pay half the cost, but amended her proposal Monday. She said she was happy to get some relief for homeowners.“It's a start, it's a beginning and I hope, with time and the improvements in the economy, we can begin to inch city participation up and the homeowner's down,” Adams said.The program would cover only the cost of replacing the portions of sidewalk damaged by trees in the public right-of-way. Committee members asked Public Works Director Howard Elstro to research potential costs so the city can establish a maximum rate per square-foot for individual projects. The city currently pays $3.48 a square foot, but Adams said it was likely that individual homeowners would have to pay more than the city, which contracts for multiple properties.“They're not going to get the same deal the city gets,” Adams said.Elstro said the proposal will allow the city to help residents without overwhelming the Public Works budget.“I believe this is a proposal the administration can certainly support and implement with some satisfaction,” Elstro said. The proposal will require a vote from the full City Council before it can be implemented. The committee's action did free the council to vote on an ordinance giving the city permission to begin its annual sidewalk repair program. That ordinance had been placed on hold until the committee could make a decision on how much of the repair to take responsibility for. Adams said the next step is to establish a program to remove the trees that have outgrown the tree lawn before they do any damage. Elstro said he is already working on that.“We will be re-examining our tree removal policy for problem trees ... and build into it a little bit more latitude about when we go in and remove a tree,” Elstro said.You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.