The City of Houston intends to proceed with legal action in connection with the overnight disappearance of half a dozen oak trees from the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr., according to 2 separate sources. The trees were chopped down and ground up on site under cover of darkness Tuesday night as part of a renovation of the fast-food spot, which sits at the corner of Kirby and North Blvd. The removals took place on city property, but had not been permitted by the city.
“I have already been assured by the City of Houston’s enforcement officer that the city intends to proceed with a civil case,” writes Trees for Houston executive director Barry Ward in an email sent to members of the canopy-enhancement organization this morning. He calls plans to pursue legal action “a continuation of the recent, positive trend by the current administration to put an end to illegal tree removal in the City right-of-way or on city property.”
The Kirby Dr. and North Blvd. oaks had been planted by Trees for Houston volunteers acting on behalf of the Boulevard Oaks Civic Association (with approval by the former Wendy’s franchise owner) more than a decade ago. While noting that his organization is not opposed to tree removal “where appropriate and legally executed,” Ward indicates in his email that Trees for Houston “is horrified by the irresponsible behavior exhibited here.”
If it proceeds with a civil suit or a criminal prosecution, it is possible the City will seek both replacement of the oaks with large substitutes and a financial penalty based on the value of the removed trees. One estimate for this incident values the oaks at approximately $150,000.
- Previously on Swamplot: Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Renovation Crews Chop Down North Blvd. Street Oaks Overnight
Photos: Swamplot inbox