Here is some good news about how a compromise was reached to save a big, beautiful oak tree.
This story comes from the Arbor Day Foundation
Oak Tree Saved in Glen Carbon, Illinois
Developer changes plans after outcry
An attempt will be made to save the 200-year-old shingle oak tree on property where the Osborn Company plans to build Meridian Manors subdivision, Don Osborn told village officials and about a dozen residents at a special meeting in Village Hall Tuesday.
Village trustees voted 4-2 to approve the final plat for the new subdivision on North Meridian Road at the May 24 Village Board meeting. Osborn had told the Building and Development Committee and the Planning and Zoning Commission that the road would need to be graded down at least six feet below the ground level of the tree. He said it would need to be encircled with a retaining wall and damage to it during construction would most likely kill the tree.
There was no discussion about the tree before trustees voted on the final plat at the May meeting. Several trustees said later that they had not been aware of the historic shingle oak nor of the plans to remove it. Trustees Margaret Moggio and Ron Slemer cast the no votes.
When word got out about the tree, residents organized a campaign to get Osborn to change his plans and save the tree.
Osborn said after the public outcry about the tree and after discussions with Moggio and Mayor Rob Jackstadt, he decided to revise the subdivision plat to split the entrance road to go around the tree with one way in and one way out of the subdivision.
A 35-feet wide island similar to the ones at the entrance to Somerset will be left around the tree, gently sloping downward to the roadway at least 15 feet away on the north and south sides of the tree. The east and west sides will extend to the drip line of the tree to ensure the tree will get enough water and nutrients.
Osborn said the road will be graded to a 12 percent slope that will still meet the pavement of Meridian Road at a 2 percent grade. The incline will be only slightly steeper than the 10 percent grade at the entrance to Somerset. Osborn said there will be no retaining walls around the tree. There will be a temporary fence erected to protect it during construction and a tree specialist will be on site to guide and direct any construction activities near the tree to make sure it isn’t damaged.
The pruning of two large limbs from one side of the tree will also be supervised. Osborn said the low-hanging limbs would prohibit traffic from passing underneath them.
Building and Zoning Administrator Will Shashack said the tree specialist examined the tree this week and advised that it has a type of gall that may be treated. He said it is hoped that the tree will remain alive.
Moggio thanked Osborn and told those assembled that he didn’t have to do what he is doing because the final plat for the subdivision had been through all of the processes required by the village.
She asked people to recognize that Osborn is giving up something and will have to make three of the lots somewhat smaller to accommodate the new design.
The residents applauded and expressed gratitude to Osborn for his decision to save the tree. “Let’s hope that future developers will follow Osborn’s lead,” Joan Callahan said.
Shashack said the lots will still meet size requirements for width, depth and square footage that the village requires for housing developments.
Jackstadt announced the revised plans at the Village Board meeting immediately following the meeting with Osborn.
“I am very pleased to announce that apparently the old shingle oak will not be cut down,” he said. “Local government needs to be open and inclusive and this is a good example of how local government can listen and respond to residents’ concerns.”
Jackstadt thanked all of the residents who took time to call, e-mail and write to him and the other trustees about the tree. He especially thanked Moggio for spearheading the effort to save the tree.
“Finally, I also want to thank the developer for agreeing to work with the village to modify the already approved final plat to develop this subdivision,” he said.
Jackstadt said the situation highlights the need for Glen Carbon to quickly develop and enact a reasonable tree ordinance that not only has some teeth in it, but one that can withstand legal and constitutional scrutiny.
He said the village needs to update and strengthen its building codes and ordinances to give the village the ability to enforce them and be able to preserve trees and historical buildings.
He said residents should encourage property owners and farmers, especially the ones who may have historical trees or historical structures on their properties, to consider placing restrictive covenants on their properties so such treasures will not be lost when the properties are sold.
Hugh Paterson, who voted on the prevailing side when the final plat for Meridian Manors was approved, moved to rescind that approval and refer the plat back to the Building and Development Committee and the Planning and Zoning Commission for further consideration before it is presented to the Village Board again. His motion passed unanimously.
Meridian Manors, a subdivision of about 130 houses, is planned to be developed on nearly 40 acres of open land between Interstate 270 and Smola Lane with frontage on North Meridian Road. Osborn also agreed to change the name of one of the larger streets in the subdivision to Smola Farm.
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