Judge blocks Longmont from cutting down tree
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.