The city of Washington will prosecute anyone caught cutting down trees in the area of the Rotary Riverfront Trail, north of the railroad tracks.

Someone recently cut down a tree on the city’s property, City Administrator Jim Briggs told city council members Monday night.

“We’re not sure who did it,” Briggs said.

A settlement approved in 2007, gives property owners who live along bluffs south of the railroad tracks the right to petition the city to have tall trees trimmed or removed that block their views of the river.

If the city approves, the cost of cutting down and removing trees is borne by the property owner, not the city.

“They are required to get our permission,” Briggs stressed. However, no one contacted the city prior to cutting down the tree. He said he was told about the incident by a member of the city’s Urban Forestry Committee.

Briggs did not give the exact location of the tree.

“In the future we will recommend prosecution of any offenders,” he told the council.

In 2002, a group of landowners filed suit against the city claiming they owned the property along the riverfront trail, east of the riverfront park.

After several years, the city and property owners reached the agreement under which the city received clear title to all the property. In return, the property owners were guaranteed that their river views would be preserved.

Under that agreement, when a property owner requests any tree cutting or trimming work, the city reviews it to determine if it meets the criteria for maintaining a sight line easement that extends diagonally from a point on each property owner’s land to a point 20 feet above the south bank of the Missouri River.