KOWS Radio’s Antenna Tower Update: Illegal Trenching Destroys Mature Tree Roots
On Monday, November 28, KOWS radio authorized their contractor to trench through 300 feet of mature tree roots on the Sebastopol water tank site without a permit, as confirmed by Sebastopol Planning Director Kenyon Webster. Ben Shafer, the General Contractor for KOWS, was on the job site along with the backhoe operator. No one from the City or KOWS was present.
KOWS Trespass on City Land and Trench 300ft Without PermitPersonalize your message
The backhoe cut through the roots of at least a dozen 40-50 foot Italian Stone Pine trees planted over 30 years ago to screen the water tanks from the surrounding neighborhoods. The 3 foot deep, 2 foot wide trench displaced 1,800 cubic feet of soil and is now littered with severed roots, some as big as a human wrist, cut off within a few feet of their trunks.
The trees have huge canopies and as a result screen the water tanks very effectively. But they are also top heavy. The most common cause of falling for these trees is root failure. Even if they can survive the loss of 30-40% of their major roots, their lives have been cut short and they will be much more likely to lean and fall. This causes serious on-site hazard to workers as well as additional expense to the city in terms of maintenance, cleanup and the ongoing upkeep of the visual cover of the Sebastopol’s water tanks.
The Planning Director said these trees precluded the necessity for any additional landscaping for the KOWS antenna tower project. The City Council waived the landscaping related zoning requirements for Minor Telecommunications Facilities that also require that a Tree Protection Plan be provided by a licensed arborist (City of Sebastopol Zoning Ordinance 17.100.180]. These trees have now been permanently damaged.
The route taken by the backhoe is completely different from the plans that KOWS provided to the City of Sebastopol. The trenching path on the submitted plan avoids most of the trees. Someone changed that route (with or without) the City’s approval.
An EIR would have prevented this fiasco, but even simply following the zoning requirements would have provided these trees with proper protection.
The citizens of Sebastopol deserve answers to the following questions:
Who gave KOWS a key to city property when they have neither a permit or signed lease agreement from the City?
On who’s authority did they start trenching?
Why were tree roots not protected at all?
Why has the city allowed KOWS complete access to the property?
Why did they deviate from the submitted plans?
Why has the City allowed KOWS to significantly increase liability to the City?
Please sign our petition voicing your outrage that 30 year old trees have been allowed to be sacrificed by the City for the sake of this project. Nothing can restore the trees to their former good health, but we can demand that the City stop this project before even more harm is done.
City land and your tax dollars are at stake.
How long is this Illegal Trench?
Take a walk with me... (1:30 min)
With NO Permit: KOWS Trench 300 ft, Displace 1800 cubic feet of Soil, and Cause Permanent Tree Damage. Watch Video:
1,800 Cubic Feet of Soil Displaced. Roots the size of your wrist severed. City trees permanently damaged by KOWS Radio station trespassing and 1,800 Cubic Feet of Soil Displaced
300′ x 3′ x 2′.