Barking up the wrong tree in Aspen
ASPEN – An Aspen homeowner and a landscaper he enlisted to prune limbs from a neighbor’s tree were both fined $550 by the city of Aspen as part of an agreement announced Wednesday in Municipal Court.Daniel Waters, who owns a house at 216 E. Hallam St., and Good Earth Landscaping & Maintenance employee Brad Randell pleaded no contest to charges connected to trespassing and destruction of private property – namely the 70-foot Douglas fir tree located next door. Waters also greed to pay $2,300 to Aspen Tree Service, which will monitor the progress of the ailing tree that was illegally trimmed last summer. Neither defendant was required to appear at Wednesday’s hearing, in which city prosecutor James True revealed the agreement to Judge Brooke Peterson. Peterson appeared aghast that Waters recruited someone to cut limbs from his neighbor’s tree, even if the branches were encroaching his land. “I find it astonishing someone would send somebody to cut a tree on someone else’s property,” the judge said. “That strikes me as totally inappropriate.”Both Waters and Randell weren’t issued citations until Dec. 23 by Aspen police, who originally learned about the incident on Aug. 26 when a caretaker for the neighbor contacted authorities. The caretaker told police she saw Randell cut some 15 branches from the tree, about 50 feet up, and load them into a trailer. That same day, Steve Ellsperman, director of the city’s Parks and Open Space department, arrived on the scene to tell Waters and Randell that they had both violated the city codes of trespassing and trimming more than 10 percent of a tree without a permit, according to a police report.Waters, who could not be reached for immediate contact last night, told authorities that “he believed he could cut any branches that cross over to this property,” the report says. “He said that he will take responsibility for any issues related to this incident.”Both True and city forester Chris Forman told the judge that the tree, although damaged, should overcome the August incident.”We are comfortable the tree will survive …” True said. Peterson said he hopes so.”I think it will,” Forman said. firstname.lastname@example.org
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