Boulder officials will meet with managers of the Mapleton Mobile Home Park next week to review the recent removal of cottonwood trees there, as well as plans to remove more of the deciduous giants in the coming months.
The meeting was arranged this week after David Weil, a 13-year resident of the mobile home park, contacted city planners and the city forestry department about the planned removal of cottonwoods that he feels are healthy and should not be cut down without proper assessment.
City spokesman Mike Banuelos said Wednesday that because the land is private property, owned by Boulder-based nonprofit Thistle Communities, the city's forestry department has no authority. However, after the city undertook a site review approval at the site during a rezoning process in 2004, the planning department does have the authority to review changes in landscaping there, Banuelos said.
"Part of that 2004 site review included a development agreement that included a detailed landscape plan, which basically says removal of trees must receive approval from the planning department as part of that site review," Banuelos said.
Members of Boulder's department of Planning and Development Services are scheduled to meet with Mapleton Mobile Home Park management Monday. Banuelos said the city officials will focus on the best management plan for trees at the mobile home park, 2635 Mapleton Ave.
He said the city will seek justification for removal of trees, including a statement from an independent arborist regarding their removal.
For trees already removed, city officials will seek documentation about their removal and their condition, and they could require mitigation from the property managers, including planting of additional trees.
Tom Duffy has been the on-site property manager at the Mapleton Mobile Home Park since May 2011. He said he welcomes the city's input on the tree removal, and he is confident officials will support removing hazardous cottonwoods and willow trees at the site, a process that began two years ago.
"Every windstorm or snowstorm we had large limbs falling, and residents here were pretty upset, so we knew we had to do something," Duffy said.
Duffy said Mapleton Mobile Home Park has invested about $20,000 each of the past two years in tree trimming and removal, spending about $8,000 on stump grinding alone last year. He said cottonwoods were planted around the mobile home park when it was established in the 1960s and are now beyond their projected life spans.
Native Tree Service has removed four cottonwoods since 2011 and plans to remove 10 or 11 more over the next three to four years out of 24 that remain at the site, Duffy said. Meanwhile, management planted 50 new trees last year and plans to add at least 20 more over the next four years.
Duffy knows of at least seven lots where cottonwoods either dropped a limb on a trailer or fell over entirely, including one incident when a large limb stabbed straight through the roof of a mobile home. He said no one was hurt in any of the incidents.
Kurt Bishoff, a resident for 23 years, has been president of the Mapleton Mobile Home Park volunteer board of directors for eight years. He said he has had to patch his roof because of fallen branches several times and has helped others do the same.
He said a majority of residents are supportive of the tree management plan.
"The reason we have the tree removal and tree replacement program is strictly for resident safety," Bishoff said. "You sleep much better on a windy night knowing that a branch isn't going to fall and decapitate you."
Weil, who has two giant cottonwoods directly behind his trailer, disputes the idea that all of the trees recently cut down were unhealthy, and he feels they could have been maintained for much longer with proper pruning.
"In my opinion, we have the assets in the bank to maintain the tree canopy over time," Weil said.
"We're trying not to lose the canopy any faster than we need to because it's one of the community's greatest assets," he said. "It's a noise buffer, and it provides shade for the trailers, many of which have un-insulated roofs."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.