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Crews take down controversial cottonwood tree in Longmont

LONGMONT, Colo. -- Crews took down a controversial cottonwood tree in front of a home in Longmont on Monday.

Homeowners planted the cottonwood in the city's right-of-way in 1977. They said when they bought it from a local nursery, it was a male and didn't produce cotton. It was one of three trees planted by the couple to represent their three daughters.

But over time it switched genders, as trees can do, and it now produces cotton, which the city considers to be a nuisance.

An effort by neighbors led the city to decide to cut down the 60-foot tree. City leaders cited two ordinances that deal with nuisance trees and cotton-producing trees.

But the homeowners, their children and a group of supporters fought to stop the city from cutting down the tree.

Last month, a judge postponed the tree cutting indefinitely. But a few days later, a judge ruled Longmont owns the tree and the city has the right to remove it.

The family took photos with the tree on Sunday night. They say they are devastated with the decision to cut down a healthy, symbolic tree.

The daughters say it will be a heartbreaking sight for their mother.

"She watched it grow like the three of us," Erin Dawe said. "And she watched us grow and start our own families, and it's almost symbolic of all the branches of seven grandkids."

The city will replace it with a 25-foot, noncotton-bearing cottonwood by the end of the week.

"I'm very, very sad today," neighbor Tom Chemault said. "My wife's the one that put the ribbons on the tree in the middle of the night (on Sunday night)."