City Council stands by tree |

City Council stands by tree

The city won't permit the owners of a Main Street property to cut down a stately spruce on the lot. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

A stately Colorado spruce that, as City Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss quipped, might be older than he is, can’t be cut down to facilitate redevelopment of a Main Street property, the Aspen City Council agreed Monday.The council voted unanimously to uphold the city parks department’s denial of a tree-removal permit for property owners Marshall and Susan Olsen.The tree, at 701 W. Main St., is an estimated 75 to 80 years old and somewhere between 60 and 80 feet high, making it among the oldest of its species in town.

The Olsens are splitting their property into two lots that will ultimately contain three buildings – a historic building and two new residences. They sought the city’s input in preserving the tree, but excavation struck the root system even though it was beyond the zone they were directed to leave undisturbed.Fearing further excavation would weaken the tree’s stability and that it could eventually topple, they asked to remove it and offered to pay the $27,000 mitigation fee required to cut it down. They’re also willing to plant new spruces along the front of the property.”We don’t take removal of a tree as something that is unimportant,” Susan Olsen said.

“We don’t feel this tree is so important to Aspen or will be missed in the long term,” said their attorney, Garret Brandt. “Maybe it’s time for this one to go.”But after a lengthy discussion, the council disagreed, directing the Olsens to work with the city’s parks department in preserving the tree as they go forward with their project.”My vote is no, you cannot kill the tree,” DeVilbiss said.

“This tree was planted before I was born and it may outlive my grandchildren, who are not born yet, with the proper care,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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