Monte tree ordinance takes new roots



MONTE VISTA - During the last meeting of Monte Vista city council, Public Works director Rob Vance came before the council with information about a new city tree ordinance for their approval. Vance gave the council a brief synopsis of the ordinance. Over the past nine months, the Monte Vista tree board has been working on redoing ordinance 685 which was the city’s original tree board ordinance. The tree ordinance established the maintenance guidelines for trees within the city. “A lot of people don’t think about it, but all cities have what’s considered an urban forest and that’s any street that’s in the public domain. Meaning a park or along downtown streets; those trees that are actually in the right of way. We call them park trees. Especially on the western half of town all those trees that are right on the edge of the sidewalk, or in the parkway, those are all the city’s trees and they’re all part of our urban forest,” explained Vance.
This newly drafted ordinance is geared toward the governance and the maintenance of those trees Vance told the council. The new ordinance goes as far as to establish who maintains them and what criteria is necessary for the trimming and the removal of the trees. “A lot of times we have citizens that ask to have a tree removed that really isn’t diseased or hasn’t had any issues. This gives the tree board a means and an application process for people when they want a tree removed,” commented Vance.
This will allow the tree board to go out and review a tree and determine whether or not the tree should be removed or trimmed. It will also give the board a basis for being able to develop a replacement plan. “Trees are a huge quality of life element for Monte Vista, especially for those who live on the western side. There’s a big difference as you drive through town. The boulevard effect that the trees create. It also puts a little onus on us in public works to make sure when we do a project that we’re taking the character of the town into consideration. A lot of places completely remove trees when their doing curb, gutter, and sidewalk projects and it can completely change the overall aesthetics of a community or neighborhood,” said Vance.
This new ordinance attempts to safeguard the character that the trees provide the town of Monte Vista and it in essence replaces the old 685 tree ordinance. Vance told the council how all the members of the tree board have worked very hard on this new ordinance. Jim Poston, who sits on the tree board, wrote a great bulk of the new ordinance Vance said. They did extensive research while working on drafting the ordinance. The tree board’s research even took them to Vermont to find applications that were simple and easy for people to fill out.
Vance shared with the council that he felt they had removed a few trees in years past that shouldn’t have been removed. That the removed trees were actually healthy but that the old ordinance didn’t provide any way to prevent trees from being removed unnecessarily. With the new ordinance, they hope they will be able to keep more trees from being unnecessarily removed. In the cases when trees need to be removed, they hope they will be able to be replaced to maintain the overall character of the town.
Councilor Kathy Lorenz moved to approve ordinance 898. An ordinance to provide for the planting and maintenance of trees and shrubbery located on or adjacent to city owned property and on the public right of way. Ordinance 898 of the Monte Vista municipal court code replaces ordinance 685. Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala seconded the motion which was carried without opposition.

Rebecca Copley is a San Luis Valley native who covers news stories in the Monte Vista, Colorado area. She can be reached by email at [email protected]

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