A grand total of 26 trees (some of them shown in the top photo of the above before-and-after sequence) surrounding 4 sides of the XO Communications building at 2401 Portsmouth St. just west of Kirby Dr. were felled over the weekend. That’s more than 4 times the number of trees turned to mulch in the overnight removal of street trees surrounding the Kirby Dr. Wendy’s just a few weeks earlier. Does the axing of the XO trees along Portsmouth, Park, Revere, and Norfolk streets in Upper Kirby count as another illegal tree massacre?
City officials say all of the trees removed surrounding the office building were on private property, and that the building’s owner had a valid permit for their removal. As part of foundation repair work on the building — and to prevent further problems — the building’s owner is planning to have a retaining wall and moisture retention system installed. Their installation will require excavation into areas occupied by the root zones of all of those trees. A consultant from tree service company Davey determined that the trees would not survive the excavation; a city inspector who reviewed those plans agreed with the finding.
City rules will require the property owner to plant new trees measuring (in total) at least 110.5 inches in diameter — to match the equivalent measurement totals of only the largest trees removed (there were 6 of them). Plans submitted with the permit indicate a total of 45 trees will be planted after the repair work is completed, adding up to 112.5 inches. Because the building is not considered new construction, the owner isn’t required to abide by the city’s approved list of tree species; according to a city official, redbuds, pines and Japanese blueberry trees will be replacing the oaks.
Photos: LoopNet (before); Swamplot inbox (all others)