An Akron woman arrested for refusing to come down from an ash tree in Highland Square to protest the plans to cut it down pleaded not guilty Thursday during her arraignment in Akron Municipal Court.
Sharon Pritt, 31, of Balch Street, is charged with obstruction and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors.
Her case has been assigned to Judge Joy Oldfield. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. June 14, according to court officials.
Pritt’s attorney, Emily S. Durway, said her client is innocent of the charges and this will “be proved by the end of this case.”
Pritt was arrested Tuesday after initially refusing to get out of the tree, which delayed the start of cutting it down for about an hour.
The protest started a week earlier, when residents learned the tree would be taken down to make way for a 25,000-square-foot retail and apartment building planned for the north side of West Market Street at the former site of the Von and Crescent apartment buildings. Protesters remained in the tree 24 hours a day after that.
After Pritt’s arrest, a tree-trimming company immediately began removal. All that remained of the tree as of Thursday afternoon was its trunk and a few main limbs.
Protesters said they were allowed on the property because they had permission of a tenant who lives in a house near where the tree was located. The Nemer family owns the property with both the house and where the tree stood, however, and plans to develop it into the retail and apartment complex.
Akron City Council is expected to discuss legislation Monday on the plans for the development.