A recent letter to some Aurora residents from the city’s Forestry Division sowed confusion about municipal tree planting and property rights.
In August letters went out to residents in the Stone Ridge Park area informing them that the city “will plant a tree on your property this Fall.”
The letter went on to say that forestry staffers will mark a location “where we think your new tree will fit best” with a white mark on the sidewalk and a tree “will be planted 5 feet away from the sidewalk.
“Any request for change must be made through the city of Aurora’s Forestry Division,” the letter said.
The city does plant trees in the spring and fall, as part of the Tree City USA initiative, and forestry staff will plant about 200 trees in upcoming weeks, said Michael Barren, a city spokesman.
“A flier was recently mailed to a number of addresses near East Mississippi Avenue and South Buckley Road indicating that the city intended to plant a tree this fall on their property,” Barren said in a statement. “To be more specific, the city is not allowed to plant a tree on private property. The city plants trees in the public right of way, and in many cases, that right of way is identified as falling within a homeowner’s property.”
Aurora has been recognized by Tree City USA for 38 consecutive years, Barren said. Tree planting beautifies neighborhoods, increases home values and reduces energy costs.
Heritage Oak, Kentucky Coffeetree, American Elms and Maples, ranging in price from $40 to $60 will be planted, at no charge to the resident. The free service includes planting costs, about $30, and $120 worth of initial water to establish the tree, according to the city. Total tree program costs, about $50,000 yearly, comes out of the Forestry Division’s $2.7 million annual budget.
“Due to the confusion regarding the property distinction, we are extending the deadline for residents to contact Forestry staff with questions about the tree planting program, as well as (to) refuse any tree planting,” the statement said.
Residents who do not want a tree planted can call the forestry service at 303-326-8512 or email [email protected] Forestry staffers are creating a new flier with “clearer language” to send to affected residents.
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