City reaches agreement with church for replacement of trees
The City of Redlands reached an agreement this week with a local church to replace two coast redwood trees that were improperly cut down and removed by a contractor at the direction of the church last August. The trees will be replaced with two mature coast redwoods. The church has agreed to pay the full cost of purchasing, transporting, planting and maintaining the replacement trees, estimated at about $80,000.
On Aug. 31, the Redlands Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located at 520 Brookside Ave., hired contractor Roseberry Tree Service to remove the two coast redwood trees adjacent to the church’s property as part of a major construction project by the church. The church did not obtain any permits to remove the trees or contact the City regarding their plan to cut down the trees.
The 45- to 55-foot redwoods were among several such trees, nearly 80 years old, that line the scenic Buena Vista Street neighborhood near the church’s property at the intersection of Brookside Avenue and Buena Vista Street.
While City Hall offices were closed that day, police began receiving calls that the trees were being cut down. By the time City code enforcement officers and other personnel arrived, the trees had already been removed and loaded onto trucks to be hauled away. Code enforcement officers issued citations to the church and the contractor, Roseberry Tree Service, for code violations in removing the trees. City staff later located the trees and took possession of them, confirming with a licensed arborist that the trees had not been dying or diseased prior to being cut down.
On Sept. 18, the City Council discussed the removal of the trees and directed City staff to negotiate with the church to restore the trees with replacements that would make the neighborhood whole. If an agreement could not be reached with the church within two weeks, staff was directed to begin the process of revoking the church’s Conditional Use Permit for construction of its sanctuary.
By the middle of the first week in October, City staff and representatives of the church had reached a tentative agreement to replace the trees with two 40- to 45-foot redwoods. Under the agreement, the City selected Valley Crest Tree Company, of Calabasas, Calif., and arranged for the purchase, transportation, and planting of the trees, along with an 18-month warranty to ensure the trees continue to thrive. The church agreed to pay all of the City’s expenses associated with the replacement of the trees. As a result of the agreement, the City will not pursue revocation of the church’s CUP and will also dismiss the citation issued to the church. The three citations issued to Roseberry Tree Service will not be dismissed.
“We are gratified that we could reach a satisfactory settlement quickly and especially that we will be able to restore the beauty of this historic and scenic neighborhood,” said Mayor Pete Aguilar. “The representatives of the church have been very cooperative in coming to an agreement, and I believe that their regret is sincere over what they admit was a tremendous error on their part.”
The City Council will consider the agreement at its regular Oct. 16 meeting.