The first hazardous vegetation abatement performed by Nevada County cost $43,035.87.
Lynnie Newman, owner of the Meadow View Drive land, said she’d obtained bids at a fraction of that cost. That’s one reason county officials said Monday that she opted in December to revoke a voluntary abatement agreement.
If Newman had complied with the agreement, and abatement the property herself, the county would have waived its costs. Instead it abated her property of dead trees and moved to place a lien on her land — the first time the county’s taken that step.
Recommended unanimously at a Hazardous Vegetation Abatement Board hearing on Monday, the issue now advances to the Board of Supervisors. No date has been set for final approval.
“I’m angry,” Newman told the three-man panel, saying the cost should have been much lower. “I don’t think it’s fair … to make me the guinea pig.”
Jeff Merriman, code and cannabis compliance program manager, said county officials learned in September 2016 about the numerous dead trees on Newman’s land. Officials spoke with her, returning two years later and finding nothing changed.
In October officials told Newman they’d refer her case to the Code Compliance Division. A month later they viewed the property with three possible contractors, discussing the removal of 28 trees and clearing property within 100 feet of neighboring land, Merriman said.
“This was a competitive bid process,” he added.
In December Newman signed the voluntary abatement form. She revoked it about a week later, Merriman said.
The abatement happened in late January.
Newman said she’s been bedridden for almost four years, adding that she’s tried unsuccessfully to find grants to fund the trees’ removal. She questioned who had tens of thousands of dollars to remove trees.
Newman also slammed officials for using an out-of-county vendor to remove her trees. She said the bids she received started at $6,000.
Doug Johnson, deputy county counsel, said officials don’t know if Newman’s bids included the same scope of work as the county’s, or required contractors to receive a prevailing wage. Merriman said the location of the contractor isn’t a concern. Instead officials wanted to ensure the lowest cost.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation today,” said Stephen Monaghan, the county’s chief information officer, and one of three panelists on the Hazardous Vegetation Abatement Board.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email [email protected] or call 530-477-4239.