Be careful to chop the right tree |

Be careful to chop the right tree

Summit Daily/Reid Williams

BRECKENRIDGE – Town officials are taking seriously the issue of illegally cut trees.Town planning commissioners told developers last week that they will need to plant two 25- to 30-foot evergreen trees to replace a 55-foot tree that was illegally chopped down on Ridge Street in May.The building department had issued a demolition permit to Kurt Ave and Kirk Michelson to remove the six chalet buildings behind the Breckenridge Brewery. They plan to build a condominium complex called Placer Ridge Condominiums on the .75-acre parcel.But when town officials visited the site on May 13, they noticed the parcel’s sole tree, which was designated on the plans to be preserved, had been chopped down. Under town ordinances, it is illegal to chop down trees without a permit.

The town immediately placed a stop-work order – a red tag – on the parcel.Town ordinances protect “specimen” trees to preserve the backdrop of the valley, soften the edges of buildings and create buffers. While this tree wasn’t a specimen tree, it was disease-free, was prominent on the site and served as a backdrop from town.”We believe it greatly contributed to the overall approved landscaping plan,” noted planner Mike Mosher.Architect J. Lee Neely told planning commissioners they intended to keep the tree, but that the root ball was within two feet of the northernmost chalet, an eave was nailed to the tree and the tree’s roots were wrapped around a steel gas line.

Planning commissioners, who approve projects based on a point analysis, originally gave the project six points, four of which were earned for the landscaping plan which called for keeping the evergreen. Planning commissioners were not convinced of new plans, however, which propose planting 68 aspen trees and 32 spruce trees ranging from 10 to 14 feet tall.”This doesn’t ring true to me,” said commissioner Ken Boos. “I don’t think the number of trees we’re getting is equal to a 55-foot pine tree. You have to figure out some other way to fix the problem.”In the original plans, the developer proposed to plant 29 spruce and 57 aspen trees.

Commissioner Herman Haering said he wanted to see taller trees planted on the parcel, even though it is difficult to guarantee the survivability of more mature trees.”Replacing a 55-foot tall pine tree is a tall order,” Boos said. “That was a big tree. It (the replacement) needs to be significant and large. It’s got to be spectacular.”Commissioners continued the item to give the developer time to draft a better mitigation plan.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at

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