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Church fined for crepe murder

Here.  While it stinks that it's a church, I love that at least it's making the news.

by Brittany Penland / Charlotte Observer Correspondent

Posted on May 28, 2011 at 9:52 AM Updated Saturday, May 28 at 9:52 AM

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Every two to three years, Eddie Sales trims and prunes the crape myrtles at his church, Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church.

But this year, the city of Charlotte cited the church for improperly pruning its trees.

"We always keep our trees trimmed back because you don't want to worry about them hanging down in the way," said Sales, a church member.

The church was fined $100 per branch cut for excessive pruning, bringing the violation to $4,000.

"I just couldn't believe it when I heard about it," Sales said. "We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined."

The fine will be dropped if the church replaces each of the improperly pruned trees, said Tom Johnson, senior urban forester for city of Charlotte Land Development Division.

"When they are nonrepairable, when they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced," Johnson said. "We do that for a number of reasons but mainly because they are going to come back unhealthy and create a dangerous situation down the road."

Charlotte has had a tree ordinance since 1978, and when trees are incorrectly pruned or topped, people can be subject to fines, Johnson said.

Trees planted as a result of the ordinance are subject to the fines if they are excessively trimmed or pruned. These include trees on commercial property or street trees. They do not include a private residence.

"The purpose of the tree ordinance is to protect trees," Johnson said. "Charlotte has always been known as the city of trees. When we take down trees, we need to replace these trees."

Individuals who would like to trim their trees should call the city foresters to receive a free permit to conduct the landscape work.

Foresters will then meet with the person receiving the permit and give instructions on how to properly trim their trees, Johnson said.

The state Division of Forestry recommends that anyone trimming trees should be certified by the National Horticulture Board, but certification is not required to receive a permit.

On private property, fine amounts are based on the size of the tree improperly pruned. For small trees such as cherry trees or crape myrtles, the fine is $75 per tree. Excessive cutting can increase that fine to $100 per branch.

For large trees such as oaks or maples, the fine is $150 per tree.

Because there is a widespread lack of understanding on how to prune crape myrtles in the Charlotte area, Johnson said, residents found in violation regarding these trees are asked to simply replace them, and the fine will be lifted.

Sales said trees found in violation at the church must be cut down and replaced with new trees by October, but the church plans to appeal. Sales doesn't know how much it would cost to replace the trees.

"We trimmed back these trees in the interest of the church," Sales said. "If we were in violation, we certainly did not know we were."

Typically during the course of a year, Johnson said, about six private residents are found in violation of improper topping or pruning.

"We are trying to be pro-active and not trying to fine people excessively," Johnson said.

Re: Church fined for crepe murder

  • ah dang I thought we were talking about pancakes!
  • This is interesting.  I was intrigued when I saw your siggy.  I have seen the "murdered" crepes and never knew what they were.   Never in a million years would i have ever guessed that they are supposed to look like the pic on the right.   What a shame!

    Why do people do this?  It is because they plant them in spots that are too small to handle them when they grow?  I have seen them looking like the photo on the left up close to homes.  Like shrubbery.

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  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
    image TarHeels&Rebels:

    Here.  While it stinks that it's a church, I love that at least it's making the news.

    "When ... they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced," Johnson said. "We do that ... because they are going to come back unhealthy and create a dangerous situation down the road."

    Trees planted as a result of the ordinance are subject to the fines if they are excessively trimmed or pruned. These include trees on commercial property or street trees. They do not include a private residence.

    The state Division of Forestry recommends that anyone trimming trees should be certified by the National Horticulture Board, but certification is not required to receive a permit.

    On private property, fine amounts are based on the size of the tree improperly pruned. For small trees such as cherry trees or crape myrtles, the fine is $75 per tree. Excessive cutting can increase that fine to $100 per branch. For large trees such as oaks or maples, the fine is $150 per tree.

    Wow, that's a stiff fine for such a small tree. It makes no sense based on the explanation provided by the city: "they are going to be dangerous down the road". It's a Crepe Myrtle! It is never going to be dangerous. They just don't get big enough to pulverize houses and cars when they fall down.
    I'm also a little confused as to why the distinction between private property (can be fined) and private residence (exempt). It's inconsistent.
    And wtf is the "National Horticulture Board"? I've been in the horticulture industry for awhile and belong to several organizations, but I have never heard of this. The only "National Horticulture Board" I know about is in India!
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  • see this is why I'm nervous about trimming my Rose of Sharon since the structure looks similar.
  • image SaintCity:

    This is interesting.  I was intrigued when I saw your siggy.  I have seen the "murdered" crepes and never knew what they were.   Never in a million years would i have ever guessed that they are supposed to look like the pic on the right.   What a shame!

    Why do people do this?  It is because they plant them in spots that are too small to handle them when they grow?  I have seen them looking like the photo on the left up close to homes.  Like shrubbery.

    Most of it is ignorance.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Some of it is that they're in too small spaces, but mostly it's just ignorance and copying your neighbor. 

    NB, I also thought their reasoning was flawed.  And even a Natchez crepe isn't going to hurt someone, even if it didn't bend in the wind.  Besides, murdered crepes CAN be reformed - it takes years of proper pruning, retraining and patience, but it's completely possible.  Their statements would be correct for plenty of other trees, but not these.

  • I agree with NB the explanation seems silly but like you I'm glad people are beginning to be aware of what they should be doing.  Originally I thought but it's a church.  Then I thought about it and realized it is more of a public area and lots of people see them pruning crepes that way so it would have more of an impact to fine them than a residential house. 
  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
    image TarHeels&Rebels:

    Monkey see, monkey do.... ignorance and copying your neighbor. 

    NB, I also thought their reasoning was flawed.  And even a Natchez crepe isn't going to hurt someone, even if it didn't bend in the wind.  Besides, murdered crepes CAN be reformed - it takes years of proper pruning, retraining and patience, but it's completely possible.  Their statements would be correct for plenty of other trees, but not these.

    True.

    FYI folks- the REAL reason has nothing to do with risk management- it is about dollars and cents. Tree care costs money. Municipalities need a way to generate revenue, and shifting the liability is an increasingly popular way of accomplishing this goal. A lot of conferences now have attorneys conduct sessions to teach Municipal Arborists with shrinking budgets how they can shift those costs to citizens. Because of course, nobody wants a tax increase.

    Many cities around the world are quietly writing amendments to their tree ordinances, or drafting new ones, spelling out that citizens are responsible for curbside street trees in front of their houses, and liable for damages if the trees cause injuries.

    That might seem unfair, but is it any more fair than making you pay for this in the way of taxes? You WILL pay for tree care, it's just a matter of HOW and WHEN. After all, money doesn't grow on trees.

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  • Maybe it's my core semi-libertarian belief system, but this whole thing seems ridiculous.  Why should a city/county/etc government be able to fine for improperly pruning trees?  If it's a public hazard, I see them making the landowner correct/pay for the situation.  Not that I'm a fan of stupid looking trees of any kind, but how is it the government's decision to what is allowed?  What if someone took some creative liberties with their yard that people on city council didn't like?

    And with that, I'm off to check my city's website for anything similar...

    PHOTOS REMOVED

    image

  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
    image goldenjes:

    Maybe it's my core semi-libertarian belief system, but this whole thing seems ridiculous.  Why should a city/county/etc government be able to fine for improperly pruning trees?  If it's a public hazard, I see them making the landowner correct/pay for the situation.  Not that I'm a fan of stupid looking trees of any kind, but how is it the government's decision to what is allowed?  What if someone took some creative liberties with their yard that people on city council didn't like?

    And with that, I'm off to check my city's website for anything similar...

    Because it's easier than raising taxes! As I pointed out before, you WILL pay for tree care, either in the form of taxes (everyone pays) or fines (violators pay). Fines are better. And because trees are living things, whose lifespans ofetn exceed that of humans, your city may choose to define them as a public amenity.

    You can indeed 'take creative liberties' in pruning, but because the tree is a living thing that cannot speak for itself, the public normally does get a vote (just like the public would get a vote if you abused animals on your private land) and common mores DEMAND that the municipality step in and take some action.

    You may not know it, but there are published guidelines pertaining to tree pruning. Theses were developed by industry experts. So while you are free to take creative liberties, and recreate the Dumbo topiary you saw at Disneyworld, you still have to do so with the health of the tree in mind, and make proper pruning cuts (as defined by these experts).

    TarHeels very astutely pointed out that whatever people see repeatedly, they assume to be correct. And they will emulate it.

    Every tree in a city costs money. It costs money to buy them. You pay crews to install them. When a tree falls down and a crew comes out and cleans up the mess, they need money.

    Think of this as fining people who hurt innocent living things, so there will be money to properly care for the urban forest, for everyone.

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  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
    image goldenjes:

    Maybe it's my core semi-libertarian belief system, but this whole thing seems ridiculous.  Why should a city/county/etc government be able to fine for improperly pruning trees?  If it's a public hazard, I see them making the landowner correct/pay for the situation.  Not that I'm a fan of stupid looking trees of any kind, but how is it the government's decision to what is allowed?  What if someone took some creative liberties with their yard that people on city council didn't like?

    And with that, I'm off to check my city's website for anything similar...

    Because it's easier than raising taxes! As I pointed out before, you WILL pay for tree care, either in the form of taxes (everyone pays) or fines (violators pay). Fines are better. And because trees are living things, whose lifespans ofetn exceed that of humans, your city may choose to define them as a public amenity.

    You can indeed 'take creative liberties' in pruning, but because the tree is a living thing that cannot speak for itself, the public normally does get a vote (just like the public would get a vote if you abused animals on your private land) and common mores DEMAND that the municipality step in and take some action.

    You may not know it, but there are published guidelines pertaining to tree pruning. Theses were developed by industry experts. So while you are free to take creative liberties, and recreate the Dumbo topiary you saw at Disneyworld, you still have to do so with the health of the tree in mind, and make proper pruning cuts (as defined by these experts).

    TarHeels very astutely pointed out that whatever people see repeatedly, they assume to be correct. And they will emulate it.

    Every tree in a city costs money. It costs money to buy them. You pay crews to install them. When a tree falls down and a crew comes out and cleans up the mess, they need money.

    Think of this as fining people who hurt innocent living things, so there will be money to properly care for the urban forest, for everyone.

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  • image ~NB~:

    Because it's easier than raising taxes! As I pointed out before, you WILL pay for tree care, either in the form of taxes (everyone pays) or fines (violators pay). Fines are better. And because trees are living things, whose lifespans ofetn exceed that of humans, your city may choose to define them as a public amenity.

    You can indeed 'take creative liberties' in pruning, but because the tree is a living thing that cannot speak for itself, the public normally does get a vote (just like the public would get a vote if you abused animals on your private land) and common mores DEMAND that the municipality step in and take some action.

    You may not know it, but there are published guidelines pertaining to tree pruning. Theses were developed by industry experts. So while you are free to take creative liberties, and recreate the Dumbo topiary you saw at Disneyworld, you still have to do so with the health of the tree in mind, and make proper pruning cuts (as defined by these experts).

    TarHeels very astutely pointed out that whatever people see repeatedly, they assume to be correct. And they will emulate it.

    Every tree in a city costs money. It costs money to buy them. You pay crews to install them. When a tree falls down and a crew comes out and cleans up the mess, they need money.

    Think of this as fining people who hurt innocent living things, so there will be money to properly care for the urban forest, for everyone.

    I do not understand this.

    How does it cost the city money if I plant a tree in my own yard?  They don't buy them, plant them, prune them, and if it gets diseased (like many cottonwoods in our area), they do not pay to have them removed - the homeowner/landowner is responsible for that.  If the tree falls on the sidewalk/road/public access, the homeowner is also responsible for taking care of the removal there as well.  (Previous owners here had a big tree fall across the cul-de-sac in a windstorm)

    The trees on my property may outlive me, but then they become the responsibility of whoever buys the house/lot in the future.

    PHOTOS REMOVED

    image

  • image goldenjes:

    I do not understand this.

    How does it cost the city money if I plant a tree in my own yard?  They don't buy them, plant them, prune them, and if it gets diseased (like many cottonwoods in our area), they do not pay to have them removed - the homeowner/landowner is responsible for that.  If the tree falls on the sidewalk/road/public access, the homeowner is also responsible for taking care of the removal there as well.  (Previous owners here had a big tree fall across the cul-de-sac in a windstorm)

    The trees on my property may outlive me, but then they become the responsibility of whoever buys the house/lot in the future.

    I think they are talking about tree lined streets here.  We live on a corner and though we mow all the way to the street (no sidewalks in our area) the 10' or so of property along the streets and a triangular portion of the corner belong to the township not us. 

  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
    image goldenjes:

    image ~NB~:

    Every tree in a city costs money. It costs money to buy them. You pay crews to install them. When a tree falls down and a crew comes out and cleans up the mess, they need money.

    Think of this as fining people who hurt innocent living things, so there will be money to properly care for the urban forest, for everyone.

    How does it cost the city money if I plant a tree in my own yard?  They don't buy them, plant them, prune them, and if it gets diseased (like many cottonwoods in our area), they do not pay to have them removed - the homeowner/landowner is responsible for that.  If the tree falls on the sidewalk/road/public access, the homeowner is also responsible for taking care of the removal there as well.  (Previous owners here had a big tree fall across the cul-de-sac in a windstorm)

    Okay, THAT tree doesn't cost the city money, but what about all trees on the curb? in public parks? THEY cost money. And where does that money come from? From YOU, the citizen. 100% of the government's money comes from outside. They don't pick up crates of cash from the mint. Therefore, to get the funds to care for the urban forest, a city can:

    a) tax everybody

    b) fine a few people

    c) sell stuff.

    And if your trees succumb to disease / insects, it most definitely affects nearby trees that may belong to the city, but that's aside from the point. I'm not questioning ownership or property rights; I'm only pointing out the fact that the citizens of a city pay for the public trees in that city, and this is one source of the required revenue.

     

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  • We have seriously chopped ours down and it comes back every year.  They are pretty hard to really murder...
  • And the city does pay for private trees. Like NB pointed out, if they are more susceptible to pests and disease through improper care, they'll spread disease and pests too. I think people are unaware of how much government $$ goes to try and stop pests and disease before they go out of control and start infecting agriculture.

    Also, city beautification affects the perception of the city and how much people want to live there, how open businesses are to locating there, overall property values and so on. IMO, trees, gardens and the rest aren't just nice things to have, but an essential part of a well-functioning city. How much say that gives the government is up to debate, of course, but I don't think it's fair to say the public has no stake in it.

    Then my state just had a kerfluffle over the official state soil.
    image

    "The meek shall inherit the earth" isn't about children. It's about deer. We're all going to get messed the fuckup by a bunch of cloned super-deer.- samfish2bcrab

    Sometimes I wonder if scientists have never seen a sci-fi movie before. "Oh yes, let's create a super species of deer. NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG." I wonder if State Farm offers a Zombie Deer Attack policy. -CaliopeSpidrman
  • image living_insanity:
    We have seriously chopped ours down and it comes back every year.  They are pretty hard to really murder...

    Why would you do that?  Why not let it take its natural shape?  If it's too big for the spot, transplant it in winter.

    And btw, I didn't coin the phrase.

  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
    image pdxmouse:

    And the city does pay for private trees. Like NB pointed out, if they are more susceptible to pests and disease through improper care, they'll spread disease and pests too. I think people are unaware of how much government $$ goes to try and stop pests and disease before they go out of control and start infecting agriculture.

    Also, city beautification affects the perception of the city and how much people want to live there, how open businesses are to locating there, overall property values and so on. IMO, trees, gardens and the rest aren't just nice things to have, but an essential part of a well-functioning city. How much say that gives the government is up to debate, of course, but I don't think it's fair to say the public has no stake in it.

    Then my state just had a kerfluffle over the official state soil.

    I think I love you, mouse.

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