Stumped: Neighbors Decry Removal of Trees

The removal of 13 trees lining Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church’s west parking lot facing Colgate Avenue has upset some nearby residents.

“They were protected trees,” complained Preston Whisenant, who called them “an important buffer between” homes and nonresidential activities.

With work ready to begin on a Preston Center mixed-use development on church-owned land, crews removed the trees from city-owned land in May.

“We want the church to admit they were wrong, and we need them to commit to replacing the (trees) that were removed,” Whisenant said.

However, a church spokesperson said a certified arborist told church leaders that February’s winter storm irreparably damaged the trees planted by the church two decades ago.

We are holding the property owner responsible for full tree mitigation for the loss of the trees.

Preston Willms

“We were deeply saddened by this assessment,” said Melodie Elliott of Sunwest Communications. “We are thankful that the older, more mature Live Oaks on the east portion of Colgate survived.”

The church also has consulted with the city of Dallas, Elliott added. “We are working towards an appropriate resolution to the sad loss of these beloved trees.”

Whisenant informed Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates’ office, before she left office, that the trees didn’t appear to be dead.

He also inquired about whether their removal complied with city code.

Gates’ office provided an update from the city arborist Preston Willms, who described the trees’ removal as unauthorized.

“We are holding the property owner responsible for full tree mitigation for the loss of the trees,” Willms said in a memo. “If they cannot prove their case for removal by natural death or decline, then we will require the replacement of inches of trees removed by planting and/or by payment in lieu of planting.”

The city will want to resolve the issue before building permits are issued, and tree replacement would require careful scheduling, he said. “We need to assure any trees installed in the location are not damaged from construction activity.”

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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