A man was just trying to go green with his new house construction project in Denver, until he was told by the city he would be penalized $9,000 for doing so.

The report comes from William Porter, a writer for the Denver Post, who outlined the situation confronting Kent Oakes.

“Oakes and his wife want to build a home on South Birch Street in University Hills. They plan to scrape the existing frame house and replace it with the one in which they’ll spend their retirement years,” the newspaper reported.

“We want to build it as green as possible, and that includes solar panels on the roof,” Oakes reported.

But when workers from the solar system company arrived, they brought with them some bad news: a large honeylocust tree that towers over the southwest corner would block the sunlight to the system.


“It is a good tree and I’d like to keep it, but it just won’t let the solar work,” Oakes told the newspaper. In getting approval from the city for his plans, he noted that the tree would have to go.

All right, responded Douglas Schoch, of the city’s forestry division. But that will be a penalty of $9,000, because that’s what the city has decided the tree is worth.

And there’s no appeal process.

“I try to play by the rules,” Oakes told the newspaper. “But I feel like it’s Bambi versus Godzilla.”

City councilman Charlie Brown cited the two competing policies: one to encourage energy efficiency and another that prevents the removal of trees.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

Now the city arborist has e-mailed Oakes two options: protect the tree and move the solar panels somewhere else, or remove the tree and pay the penalty.

Or, he could plant upwards of 45 other trees in the yard, and the estimated $200 per tree credit could wipe out the penalty, the city said.


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