A church in Charlotte, N.C., has been hit by a $4,000 fine for breaking the city’s tree trimming regulations.
City officials slapped Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church with a fine of $100 per branch for “excessively pruning” its crape myrtles, the Charlotte Observer reports.
The trees are cut back by church member Eddie Sales every two to three years but this is the first time the church has been fined for violating the city’s tree ordinance.
The ordinance, introduced in 1978, is intended to stop trees from disappearing from the city's landscape by regulating the planting and maintenance of trees and shrubs on commercial property.
Tom Johnson, senior urban forester for the Charlotte Land Development Division, said the fine would be dropped if the church replaced each of the improperly pruned trees.
He said: “When [the trees] are non-repairable, when they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced.
“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.”
The fine has stunned the church.
Sales told the Observer: “I just couldn’t believe it when I heard about it. We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined.”
The church plans to appeal the decision.