Michael J. Wendling and Ruby K. Wendling: Don’t like Breck’s new tree ordinance
We strongly oppose the Defensible Space Ordinance for the following reasons:
1. First priority for fire safety is to “enforce” the timely removal of dead trees before cutting down live trees, and this is not being enforced. For example, currently the Highlands has recorded that several thousand dead lodgepole pines need to be removed. My neighbor, empty lot across the street, has left standing over 100 dead lodgepole pines and these trees have been left standing for several years without enforcement. Are not dead trees 10 times the fire hazard of live trees?
2. The Ordinance is “unfair” as it exempts certain areas like open space, town property, historic districts, and down-town. All areas must be treated the same. What about Peak 7 and Boreas Pass? If these areas are exempt can a fire sweep down through these areas and burn down the town, all because they were exempt?
3. With the landscape quickly becoming “barren,” property owners will likely not plant new trees because of the Ordinance. Last fall we spent $20,000 planting new trees with the approval of both the town of Breckenridge and the Highlands HOA. Now, only six months later, some of our newly planted trees are within 30 feet of the house. Why were we not told? What is to prevent the ordinance from changing the distance to 45 feet in future years or 60 feet in years after that? Tree planting will come to a standstill with the uncertainty and the properties will be totally “barren.”
4. The “barren” landscape will negatively impact property values as well as property tax revenues for city and county, due to the destruction of professional landscaping designs, barren lots, lack of commitment of property owners to plant new trees because of fear of new ordinances, and barren space between houses where trees had been planted to provide for privacy.
5. We have spent thousands of dollars protecting our Lodgepole Pines on our property and have successfully kept the Pine Beetle from killing them. Why throw that money out the window and cut down these healthy living trees we fought so hard to save?
6. The defensible space ordinance violates the original building envelopes which were put in place long before this ordinance. Many of these same trees were planted, at some cost, within the building envelope or were forced to be left standing during and after the building process. Planting of trees outside this envelope was discouraged. Now the ordinance will force cutting down these living trees, within the envelope, that were previously preserved and without many trees outside the envelope the property becomes “barren”.
7. How did the ordinance increase from 15 feet to 30 feet? The 30 foot distance will effectively “clear cut” trees between many houses which were originally planted, at a significant cost, for privacy.
8. What assurance do we have that 30 feet will prevent our house from burning down? How about 50 feet or 100 feet or even 10 feet? There is no assurance in a large forest fire.
9. Why shouldn’t a protective band of dead trees on National Forest lands be removed to protect fire from even entering into housing districts?
10. Why not exclude all healthy irrigated trees, either by drip or sprinkler, from the ordinance?
11. Why not have a voluntary program? No homeowner wants to lose his home to fire. Several of my neighbors have voluntarily had the fire department over to their house to review defensible space. Charge a fee and have each homeowner visit with the fire department.
12. What about reducing the ordinance distance from 30 feet to 10 feet to start with and go from there in future years?
As our mayor and town council, I hope that you give serious consideration to our concerns about this ordinance and its negative impact on property values.
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