Judge blocks Long­mont from cut­ting down tree

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Karen An­tonacci

An old cot­ton­wood tree — beloved by the own­ers of the home it shades, but re­viled by neigh­bors for the cot­ton it emits in the spring — re­ceived a tem­po­rary stay of ex­e­cu­tion Fri­day from a Boul­der District Court judge.

The tree, in the 400 block of Pratt Street in Long­mont, was sched­uled to be cut down by city crews Mon­day morn­ing, against the wishes of the fam­ily that planted it 38 years ago.

Patty and Kent McDonald moved into their home in 1977 and planted three trees in the city right-ofway in 1979, not re­al­iz­ing it wasn’t their land to plant on.

The McDon­alds also didn’t re­al­ize the tree sold to them as non-cot­ton­bear­ing would be­gin to, in fact, bear cot­ton in sub­se­quent years.

Neigh­bors have com­plained to the city about the mess and about the tree’s ef­fect on sea­sonal al­ler­gies. Cot­ton-bear­ing cot­ton­wood trees are clas­si­fied as nui­sance trees un­der Long­mont city code.

Over the years, Long­mont has tried in­ject­ing the tree, wash­ing the cot­ton pods off the tree and send­ing staff out to hand­pick cot­ton off the tree to no avail, said Dale Rademacher, Long­mont’s gen­eral man­ager of public works and nat­u­ral re­sources. Long­mont spokesman Rigo Leal said in an emailed state­ment that the city has been work­ing with the McDon­alds and neigh­bors for the past year, but couldn’t reach a com­pro­mise.

Rademacher or­dered the cot­ton­wood cut down and re­placed.

The McDon­alds filed for a declara­tory judg­ment and in­junc­tion against the city on Thurs­day, claim­ing the tree sig­nif­i­cantly cools their home, that trees in gen­eral in­crease prop­erty val­ues and other ar­gu­ments.

District Judge Thomas F. Mul­vahill granted the McDon­alds a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der Fri­day.

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