The owner of the property at the southeast corner of Kirby Dr. and North Blvd. has indicated he might attempt to evict the Wendy’s franchise whose operator appears to have ordered the nighttime removal of 6 oak trees on public property surrounding the fast-food outlet earlier this week. Lias J. “Jeff” Steen, the property’s landlord, says he sent an email saying “I am extremely disappointed he took down the trees under cover of darkness . . . And I am looking at terminating our lease,” according to a report by abc13’s Deborah Wrigley.
The Wendy’s franchisee at 5003 Kirby Dr. is Haza Foods, an Austin company run by Ali Dhanani in the convenience-store business that has recently acquired a large number of Wendy’s restaurants throughout Texas. Dhanani claims he decided to remove the trees because their roots were “tearing up” the surrounding pavement. But photographs of the site (above) appear to show that the surrounding pavement has already been removed.
New landscaping, including “indigenous” trees, is planned to be added to the site when it reopens late next month, Dhanani tells the Chronicle‘s Mike Morris. “If we’ve made a mistake in this process, we apologize,” he writes in an email to Morris. “It was done in good faith, and our intent is to create a restaurant that our customers will enjoy and the neighborhood will be proud of.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Parker says the city is still fact-finding about the Tuesday-night incident first reported on Swamplot earlier this week. A tree-removal company working for Dhanani during the renovation of the Wendy’s does not appear to have applied for or received any permits for chainsawing the trees; according to Steen, the franchise owner didn’t even have permission for the actions from his landlord. The city will seek reimbursement for the damage “with as little formality as we have to go through,” the city attorney tells Morris. A legal settlement last year resulted in a townhome developer and other responsible parties paying a $300,000 fine to the city for clearing trees from a Woodland Heights public park.
- Developer Cuts Down Large Oak Trees in Dark of Night [abc13]
- City to seek damages after restaurant cuts down trees [Houston Chronicle]
- City to pursue legal action against business that cut down several trees [Click2Houston]
- Previously on Swamplot: City Reportedly Planning Legal Action Against Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Late-Night Tree Whackers; Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Renovation Crews Chop Down North Blvd. Street Oaks Overnight
Photos: Swamplot inbox