People are outraged after a developer cut off the tops of over 30 live oak trees along Forest Lane in North Dallas this week.
The trees, with foliage that had been visible from Interstate 635 near Josey Lane, were chopped down to their limbs by the property owner, who bought the lot from the neighboring Home Depot, according to city council member Jennifer Staubach Gates.
She drove by the property herself on Friday to see the damage to the trees, which are on the city’s protected list.
"I was appalled. It was horrific," she said. "There is no arborist on the planet who would recognize that kind of butchering."
Steve Houser, a local arborist and former chair of the City of Dallas Urban Forest Advisory Committee, agrees and said the way the trees were cut will likely kill them.
"Professional arborists do not top trees like this," he said. "This is a huge loss for the area."
He suspects that the motive behind cutting back the trees was to increase visibility of the building from the road while avoiding a tree removal permit and accompanying mitigation fees with the city.
David Cossum, director of Sustainable Development and Construction for the City of Dallas, said the owner of the property, Platinum Construction based in Fate, did not file a tree removal permit with the city.
The company could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The city has not issued a citation, Cossum said, but an investigation is underway to determine if a removal permit should have been filed.
"It’s pretty self-evident that they should be classified as having been removed," he said of the live oak trees.
"It’s shocking," said Cindy Beatty who lives down the road from the property. "I just think it’s disgraceful."
Beatty was was shopping at the Home Depot on Friday when she said she saw the hacked trees. Employees at the store told her the developer is getting ready to build a storage unit facility on the property and wanted the building to be visible from the highway.
"I just hate to see trees destroyed to put up a storage facility," she said.
The city said the investigation should be concluded by next week, but Houser said regardless of the outcome, the damage has already been done.
"It’s very unfortunate," he said. "Trees like this clean your air, water, soil and they just improve overall quality of life. Damage like this will kill a tree, and Dallas doesn’t have enough trees as it is."