Kronberg fights for dead trees | AspenTimes.com
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Kronberg fights for dead trees

Abigail Eagye

Local Toni Kronberg is still hopping mad about the removal of three trees at the corner of Galena and Main streets.Although the trees are already gone, Kronberg wants her “due process” and appealed the city permit that allowed the trees to be cut down. The city accepted a cash mitigation payment of $13,612 from the developer in lieu of requiring the relocation of the trees.”This is not a moot point,” Kronberg told council at Monday night’s meeting. “It’s true the trees were cut down, but the trees were not supposed to be destroyed.”Kronberg vehemently opposes the project under construction at that corner, and she thinks developers wanted to remove the trees to make room for their equipment – and because she suspects the cash mitigation was cheaper than the cost of relocation.In a June 6 memo to the mayor and council, city staff detailed its rationale for approving the permit to remove the trees, stating that the trees were too close together and too constrained around their perimeter to relocate them successfully.”I felt the amount of the root loss would not support that tree,” city forester Aaron Reed told council.Kronberg said she doesn’t think the city took adequate steps to determine the age of the trees or to consider every possible method of moving them. She believes the trees were at least 50 years old, which she said would make them “historic” trees and therefore protected. The parks department, however, estimated the trees to be much younger, perhaps 25-30 years old.Because Kronberg did not apply for the permit that allowed for removal of the trees, her decision to appeal that decision was complicated. The question before council was not whether to repeal the permit – the city cannot resuscitate the trees. Rather, the question was “whether or not we find the city manager’s decision [to uphold the permit issued by the parks department] was an abuse of discretion in excess of his jurisdiction,” City Attorney John Worcester said.Kronberg said she thought the decision to remove the trees rather than relocate them violated the language of the city’s codes. She quoted code that requires the city to “determine what effect the intended removal or relocation of the trees will have on the historic resources of the area.””That’s where the problem lies – in that language,” Kronberg said.”The language is quite clear,” Mayor Helen Klanderud replied.Kronberg said she wanted to see the code amended to include definitions for the words “destroy,” “kill,” “remove” and “replace.”Webster’s New World Dictionary offers several definitions of “remove.” The first defines it as, “to move [something] from where it is.” Kronberg argued that such a definition does not indicate killing whatever is moved, therefore the parks department was in violation of code when it destroyed the trees after moving them.”If you have me removed … that doesn’t mean you’re gong to kill me,” she said.The dictionary also defines “remove” as, “to do away with; [specifically] … to kill or assassinate.””To me, ‘remove’ means ‘remove,'” Klanderud said Tuesday. “I don’t think there’s any confusion in the code at all.”Councilman Jack Johnson joked that the tree removal did meet the definition of the word “relocate.””It was relocated – right into the Dumpster,” he said. He then confirmed with members of the parks department that the trees were not native, rare or endangered. Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss confirmed that the trees had been planted on the site and were not original to it.DeVilbiss said that he, too, lamented the loss of the trees. But returning to the question before council, he said he was “persuaded that the appropriate procedures had been followed.”Ultimately, Kronberg’s arguments didn’t sway council, which agreed that the city manager had not violated appropriate procedures in allowing the permit. Council voted unanimously to uphold his decision.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is aeagye@aspentimes.com


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