Builder Asks Rochester Leaders for Permission to Remove Landmark Spruce Tree
The tree on Ferndale Street would make it difficult to build a house on empty lot, he says.
An 80-foot-tall spruce tree on an empty lot at the corner of Ferndale and Oak streets in Rochester is testing a three-year-old city ordinance designed to protect such "landmark" trees.
Rochester City Council will hold a public hearing Monday night to hear a builder's request to remove the tree at 345 Ferndale, which the builder says would affect his ability to build a home on the lot.
According to city law, removal of a landmark tree or historic tree is prohibited without a resolution passed by the city council. The owner is charged with demonstrating there is good reason to remove a landmark tree and that that reason outweighs the public interest in retaining the tree.
The tree measures 4 feet in diameter and stretches about 80 feet high.
"We believe preserving this heritage tree would create an undue hardship and practical difficulty in the location and future construction of a home on the property," owner Gregory L. Windingland of Lombardo Homes wrote to city council.
Windingland said the building of a home typical to others in the immediate area would be difficult.
"Due to encroachment into the building envelope, root damage caused by basement excavation and grading, it would take extraordinary efforts to preserve this tree with the likelihood of it dying within a short time due to the stress associated with the home construction," Windingland wrote.
"We would normally try to preserve a tree such as this as a great amenity to the property," he wrote. "Unfortunately, we do not see that as a viable solution."
This the first public hearing on a landmark tree removal request that the city has had since the introduction of the landmark tree ordinance in 2009. A copy of the ordinance is here.
"My neighbors and I are really opposed to cutting the tree down at 345 Ferndale. It makes no sense to remove a healthy tree just to build a big house," wrote Marie Lucas in a letter stating her opposition; Lucas also spoke to city council about the tree during a meeting in August.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Cuthbertson said the public hearing represents the intent of the ordinance: to take a serious look at these sorts of trees.
"It's really a gift from one generation to the next," Cuthbertson said about the city's landmark trees.
The public hearing will be held during the council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at Rochester City Hall.