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Community enraged after property owner cuts down 42 trees | News

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Community enraged after property owner cuts down 42 trees
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PENN VALLEY (NEVADA COUNTY), Calif. - A well-known Sacramento commercial property owner has angered a foothills community by chopping down what county officials said was 42 mature trees in a small shopping center he just purchased.

A local tree service hired by Ethan Conrad Properties cut down the trees Saturday and Sunday during the early morning hours.

"I think showing up at 5 in the morning is a little shady," said arborist David Kuttler, who owns another tree service in Penn Valley and was stunned when he drove by the Gateway Center after the weekend.

"If you don't like the trees, don't come up here. We live in the woods," Kuttler said.

Property records show Ethan Conrad purchased the center for $1.075 million and closed escrow Jan. 21.

An Ethan Conrad representative did not immediately return a phone call, but told the local Union newspaper the trees were blocking the view from Pleasant Valley Road and were impacting the septic system and parking lot.

The representative said they believed they had the county's permission to remove them, a claim strongly disputed by the Nevada County Counsel's Office.

"They were told more than once not to take out the trees," deputy county counsel Katie Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the trees were part of a landscape plan approved when the center was built in 1988 and that the county is considering legal action -- including possible criminal prosecution.

"This is egregious, unacceptable conduct," she said. "We're shocked he made this poor decision."

Business owners in the Gateway Center were outraged by the tree removal but none would speak on the record for fear of retaliation, as most are renting month-to-month.

One merchant said the loss of a large shade tree in front of her business would almost certainly cause her summer utility bills to rise.

"The center was beautiful with all the trees," she said. "We don't want it to look like a city."


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