COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The city of Columbus will fine the owner of an under-construction Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins more than $8,000 after mature trees just off of North High Street were cut down.

Four trees shaded the front of the building at 3245 N. High St. — in Clintonville along the side of Columbus’ major thoroughfare — as recently as October. But as of March, those trees no longer sat at the road verge.

The trees were removed sometime this winter, according to Kerry Francis, a communications officer for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. Since then, the owner has been assessed an $8,800 fine and will also have to plant four trees in place of the ones cut down.

A spokesperson for Dunkin’ Donuts did not return a request for comment. Local management at the Clintonville location declined to comment.

Francis, however, said the owner has been in communication with the city. “We believe he wasn’t aware of the restrictions around cutting down trees,” she wrote in an email.

Nathan Faulkner, born and raised in Clintonville, regularly drives the block where the eventual Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins sits. About a month ago, Faulkner noticed something different as he drove by — so he looked for an older street view image of the block and saw the no-longer-there trees.

“It’s one of the things that makes Clintonville unique. It’s an older neighborhood with older trees,” Faulkner said in an interview. “They’re not getting any older when you cut them down.” 

Faulkner called the city’s urban forestry section, under the purview of recreation and parks, to request that new trees be planted — a call he’s made before about missing trees in his neighborhood or elsewhere nearby. 

Tree ordinances, laws in Ohio

If they are removed without an OK from Columbus city government, city-owned trees can rake a bill of $200 per inch of the trunk’s diameter in assessed fines.

The city is also in the process of reworking its city tree code, meaning it will eventually get a facelift — with bigger fines. The newly proposed fines would be $60 per inch of the trunk’s diameter more than the current assessed fines.

State law also defines a number of tree rules and regulations. Reckless damage of another property owner’s tree is a fourth degree misdemeanor under the Ohio Revised Code, with penalties as high as $250 or 30 days in jail, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau.

The city will work with management at the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins in Clintonville to go through the process of getting the trees planted properly, Francis said, which could take time.