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Condemned apple tree means a lot to Mason City family

Tip Piper
Tip Piper
MASON CITY – An apple tree in the West Haven neighborhood of Mason City that has been condemned by city officials means a lot to the Piper family who owns it.

The city has told Tip Piper that his apple tree has a “visibility” complaint issue, that it is dying, and that it will be removed. City workers came out to Piper’s property and painted white “X’s” on the tree. Piper disagrees, and will take the matter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Piper, who lives at 2303 21st Street SW, says the tree is decades old and is part of his family’s heritage. Piper says he had no trouble until he asked for a stop sign to be placed at the corner of S. Grover and 21st Street SW. He asked for the sign, he says, due to the traffic from the nearby Newman Schools. Piper says once he asked for the sign, city officials began pointing out code issues on his property.

Robert Berggren, Mason City Street/Park Maint. Supervisor, wrote Piper the following email: “Mr. Piper, The tree you are referring to is dying and needs to be removed. It is also part of a visibility complaint that was called into the City Engineers office. There are also many bushes and shrubs on your property that need to be trimmed down to 3 feet in height or removed from the corner.”

Condemned apple tree
Condemned apple tree visited the Piper residence to have a look. All the shrubs and bushes are set back about 12 feet from the curb, in all directions. There are several other trees on the property, some closer to the curb than the apple tree.

Piper is left to wonder if by “trying to make the intersection safer with a stop sign” he may have “created a monster.” He says he just wants his tree (and shrubs) left alone.

Piper says the apple tree serves his family in many ways, including providing shade, not to mention the delicious apples it still produces. “We make apple pies from the apples, to this day. It is not dying,” Piper said. The tree has some visible storm damage, but fresh fruit could be readily found hanging from its branches. Piper says his mother, who is 93 years old and just home from the hospital, is very attached to the tree, as is his son, who is due to return from military service in Afghanistan. He says they both would be “very upset” at losing the tree.

Piper placed signs on the tree asking city workers not to cut the tree down until he has a chance to take the matter to the City’s Zoning Board. There, he can apply for a variance in order to save the tree.

Piper says that no city staff or elected officials have been out to his property to have a look, despite promises to do so. He said “only Max Weaver has come out, and he has been here several times. (City Administrator) Trout was supposed to come by, and other City Council members, but they never showed up.” will follow this story and report the outcome.

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