Trees removed as part of expansion

A CREW works to take out a stump Tuesday near Riverfront Pizza and Suds where 25 cotton wood trees were cut down this week as part of the restaurant's expansion.

Twenty five trees were removed from riverfront property this week, shocking a few in Dolores.

The trees were cut down early this week as part of the expansion at Riverfront Pizza and Suds, something that wasn't mentioned at the Dolores Town Board meeting last week when the plans were approved, nor to the Star when working on a story about the expansion.

So on Monday, when it was discovered that nearly all the cottonwood trees near the restaurant had been removed, the phones started ringing at the Dolores Town Hall.

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said that owner Sheri Schiess did nothing wrong when removing the trees, but did admit he was a bit shocked.

"To her credit, she has plans to replant some trees," Mahoney said.

Mahoney also said that Schiess did nothing wrong in removing the trees along the river.

"We have a tree preservation section in our site development standards," he said. "But cottonwoods are not one of those trees."

All of the trees cut down this week were cottonwoods. The town ordinance for preserving trees does not include cottonwoods.

When contacted Wednesday, Schiess said she hadn't planned on cutting down so many trees, but once a few were cut down to make a larger parking lot west of the restaurant, it was discovered that they all needed to be cut down.

"They were so rotten, they started to explode when we cut into them," Schiess said.

Schiess said the cottowoods were leaning and rotten and needed to go.

"It wasn't planned, but they were a liability," she said.

She added that she plans to re-landscape, possibly with trees that don't use so much water.

"I will plant something like spruce trees along the road," she said.

She also said that for an outdoor restaurant, cottonwoods can be difficult because they drop their leaves and cotton. Not good, she said, for customers eating outside.

"It was a huge hazard," she said.

She added that she wasn't trying to ruin anyone's day by cutting down the trees.

"It's not going to stay bare," she said. "I will make it real nice so everyone can enjoy it."