Home News Local News U-Haul cuts deal with city after tree-trimming incident

U-Haul cuts deal with city after tree-trimming incident

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Contractors for U-Haul International have begun new landscaping for the area in front of the former Kmart store on South Main Street. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The city of Roswell and representatives of U-Haul International have reached an agreement regarding a recent tree trimming by the company that most likely will lead to the removal of those trees and new landscaping in their place.

A division of U-Haul, based in Phoenix, Arizona, has purchased the property of the former Kmart store at 1705 S. Main St. with the intent of opening a self-storage site and rental truck and trailer business. The corporation has operated a location on South Virginia Avenue for many years, and several independent distributors also exist in the area.

On April 11, the company and its contractors ran a bit afoul of the city of Roswell when they decided to trim the trees fronting South Main Street and East Hobbs Street.

“The initial problem was that it was city property and city trees,” said Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the city of Roswell. “The city Parks and Recreation Department is in charge of taking care of city-owned trees, whether they be in parks or elsewhere.”

Another issue was that the trimming job itself did not “meet the standards” of the city, Wildermuth said. Many branches and limbs of the 15 or so trees were removed, leaving thin, tall spindles in most cases. But, Wildermuth said, by the time Parks and Recreation Director Jim Burress was able to visit the site himself on April 11, the job was almost completed.

The president of U-Haul Company of Southern New Mexico, a marketing arm for the corporation, has apologized for the situation.

“An unfortunate landscaping misstep recently occurred at our new Roswell store that, while unintended, was our fault,” said Bianca Sotelo-Herrera in an emailed statement. “Some severely overgrown trees were trimmed beyond our expectation. We thought the trees were on our property, but they are on city property. We sincerely apologize to the community.”

Wildermuth and Sotelo-Herrera said that the city and corporation have been working cooperatively on a solution.

The Parks and Recreation Department has decided that the best course of action at this time, Wildermuth said, would be to remove the trimmed trees because the city department believes they “will be unable to survive long-term in their current condition.” He said it might be possible that additional trees will be planted elsewhere to make up for the ones removed.

In the place of the trimmed trees, U-Haul will pay to install xeriscaping, including gravel and bushes, grasses and plants. Work already has begun in an area on the property near a city bus stop.

“We are, and will continue to be, beautifying our property with additional trees, plenty of low shrubbery, decorative grasses and desert landscaping to accommodate the city’s wishes and to make for the most inviting setting for our customers,” Sotelo-Herrera’s statement said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.