Group works to spare heritage trees from development
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Trees took center stage Saturday afternoon at a rally in Downtown Austin.
A group of about 30 people organized in front of City Hall, calling on developer Trammell Crow to spare a group of heritage trees at the site of the Green Water Treatment Plant. The land on which the trees sit was sold to the developer at a recent council meeting.
Austin has an ordinance which protects designated heritage trees, but council members voted to allow their removal, as long as the developer consults with a city arborist and works to save as many of the 6 total heritage trees as they can.
The protesters out Saturday said they felt that council caved into big business by allowing the historic trees to be cut down.
“We care about keeping our city green, very deeply, and we feel powerless right now because our city council isn't even enforcing their own ordinances,” organizer Camella Freitag said. "It's priceless, it's literally priceless. Those trees took hundreds of years to grow. If we start chopping down Austin trees, we become a completely different city. It's no longer Austin."
The ordinance defines a heritage tree as one with a trunk at least 75 inches around or one in the city's bicentennial or "Tree of the Year" registry.
City code does allow for removal of a heritage tree for a number of reasons including if they prevent reasonable use of the property.