Illegal tree removal will cost Carbondale business owner |

Illegal tree removal will cost Carbondale business owner

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” A Carbondale business owner must pay a $5,000 fine plus another $10,000 or more to replace several trees that were removed from public property last summer without a permit.

In late June of 2008, three mature evergreen trees located in the public right of way along Highway 133 next to Sunburst Car Care were cut down by the business owners. Four more trees had limbs cut off.

Craig Rathbun, a part owner in the business, took responsibility. But he said he believed miscommunication between town officials and he and Sunburst co-owner/manager Dave Roberts was also to blame.

“We wanted to remove the trees because spruce, as they grow, would increasingly block the view of the building from the highway and potential customers,” Rathbun said at the Jan. 27 Carbondale Board of Trustees meeting. He added that the trees also made it easier for would-be vandals to hide.

“It made perfect sense to take them down and replace them with something else,” Rathbun said.

Carbondale Public Works Director Larry Ballenger said he denied permission to remove the trees. But Rathbun said he was of the understanding that the town was OK with the trees being removed, as long as they could come up with an acceptable replacement plan.

As it turned out, spruce trees were only part of the original landscaping plan for the property when it was developed in 1995. That plan was also to include two varieties of ash, plus ponderosa pines.

However, evergreens are no longer an approved street tree, partly because they create too much shade and cause ice to build up on the street in the winter.

Rathbun has been meeting with Carbondale’s designated Tree Board ” a citizen advisory board that’s a requirement of the town’s “Tree City USA” designation ” to come up with a replacement plan. That plan calls for 10 red maple trees.

The Tree Board recommended that 3-inch caliper trees be planted, instead of Rathbun’s proposal for 2-inch trees.

“Larger caliper trees will have a better survival rate at such a congested site,” the Tree Board wrote in its recommendation.

In addition to the estimated $10,000 cost to replace the trees, the business owners were also required to pay a $5,000 fine. That money will go into a fund for future tree planting along Highway 133.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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