Town sacrifices several trees to get back alley right-of-way

Patio, trees, grass all encroaching on town property

What appeared to be a nicely landscaped patio area on the west side of Crested Butte was altered forever Tuesday morning when town employees cut down several trees in the area. The problem was that the trees were located in the alley between Butte and Teocalli Avenues and Second and Third Streets. While it might have looked like the landscaping was on an individual’s property, the reality was that it was in the town’s right-of-way.



The trees cut down Tuesday morning appeared to be more than 20 years old and those doing the cutting didn’t relish the task. But the problem is one that affects several areas of town and ultimately, according to town officials, also impacts health and safety issues.
“We started to get a lot of people encroaching onto Town property,” explained Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie. “We got a complaint about an encroacment situation this summer so we had to deal with it. That person said that if he had to lose his landscaping on town property, he wanted it enforced uniformly. It’s not something we went looking for but it was something we had to ultimately deal with.”
Gillie admitted that the issue is something the town should address immediately when it becomes apparent. “The trees we took down Tuesday should have probably been moved 15 years ago,” he said. “We felt it was time to re-establish the rights-of-way. We had the support of the fire department and utilities people. It was just time to treat the alley like an alley. It’s not yard space. It has a function.”
The town was starting to experience problems getting plows in the alley space. Gillie said there was a fear that emergency vehicles would have trouble with access. Roots on the older trees were starting to affect water lines running down the alleys, which in some cases could lead to water main breaks.
“All the neighbors were notified about the action that was going to be taken,” Gillie said. “Some people were actually happy to have the alley re-established in their block. There are still some things we have to address like some fences around town that are still on public property. They have a good chance of seeing some plow damage this winter.
“It’s been an on-going deal for 20 years to keep people on their property,” he continued. “It comes to a head every once in a while and you have to take care of it. This is one of those times.”

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