We planted White Pine trees 4 years ago they now stand 3 foot high. The city would like us to remove them because they are 6 foot from the street and sewer lines. We feel these trees will never obstruct views or lines. Are we wrong? We live in Eldon, Iowa.
Trees are a long term item that can grow into power lines, break up sidewalks, cause general obstruction or create extreme hazard and mess.
Always check with your local municipal planning department for allowed species and location.
We have one location where a person planted a Sequoia which many decades later has ripped out the sidewalk, taken up a quarter the yard and is breaking up the street pavement. It probably was cute when planted, is a very impressive tree now and will probably disburse the sewer and water mains in the street and a nearby house foundation in the next couple decades as its root system expands to support the massive trunk.
Another street and sidewalk has oil slick and smell issues from Ginko fruit from six trees lining the sidewalk when they ripen and drop.
At one time, Catalpa were highly popular. Their seeds get everywhere, clogging gutters, drifting in roof valleys and generally creating a major fire hazard. Since our town has a lot of wildland interface, they've become persona non-grata per fire insurance rules.
Mimosa are a near desert tree that grows immensely in the presence of water with very heavy and extremely brittle branches that can decimate any structure when they break off.
These are some of the reasons that ordinances come about that put strictures on species and placement. As Randy points out, you've planted a forest tree in a location that it will outgrow in 10-20 years. These things start out small but their growth at a certain point becomes exponential until they mature out at their normal height.
Why Sequoia and Redwood are not a good planter tree. Another tree from around here...
View straight down the sidewalk.
View straight down the curb
One full parking lot worth of tree at curbside
The city may have a point
The current tallest eastern white pines reach between 50–57.55 m (160–188.81 ft), as determined by the ENTS—Eastern Native Tree Society.
Grows 50'- 80' with a 20-40' spread in the landscape.
This looks cute and funny right now, but a pine is a full blown tree that takes a lot of space both above and below ground when it matures. It was a really bad idea to plant it near the road and especially near underground communications. The tree will need removal sooner or later - at some point the city will get rid of that tree. The difference is that now, when the tree is small, it can be transplanted to some other more suitable place, but when the tree is large it will be too late and cutting the tree down will be the only option. If you can't find the place where you would relocate the tree you can try selling it, your tree on someone else's property is definitely nicer than a removed tree.
I recently observed a 20-meters mostly dead poplar being removed from a narrow space between two houses - that was a real pain and required a professional arborist and he was paid about half monthly minimum wage of that jurisdiction and that was the best offer the owners could find. Someone thought it was cute when the tree was young but it became a serious problem when the tree grew larger. If you keep the tree you have good chances to pay full expenses of removing it which will definitely not be cheap in the city.
Your best option is have the tree transplanted before it is too late. Next time you should pay close attention to maximum height of the plants you select - for example certain flavors of thuja grow to no more than several meters and look great, they may be a good option for you.