Holly oaks removed after special request from Claremont resident

The fate of two controversial holly oaks on Green Street was sealed this week as workers from West Coast Arborists removed the trees on Wednesday, making quick work of the project and leaving little to no evidence they had ever existed.

In just over two hours, the trees were cut down, chipped up and hauled away.

“Since it rained last night the tree was soaked, so when it came down the amount of yellow dust was minimal,” said homeowner Alice Perreault. “That was an unexpected, natural gift.” 

As the COURIER previously reported, the Claremont City Council approved the removal of the trees with a contentious 3-2 vote after Ms. Perreault and her 15-year-old son came before the city council in late March. At that meeting, Ms. Perreault stated the health of her son Julius, who has cerebral palsy and suffers from allergies and periodic asthma attacks, dramatically worsened after moving in to their new home. The particulates and pollen from the two holly oaks bordering their driveway were having a severe adverse affect on the teen’s health, requiring numerous hospitalizations, and prompting his mother’s request the trees be removed.

As stated in the city’s Tree Policies, two trees will be planted at the homeowner’s expense for every one tree that is approved for removal. The policy was put in place to deter tree removal requests. In this case, four trees will be selected and planted to replace the two that were eradicated from the properties of Ms. Perreault and her neighbor, Jim Hollifield.

 “What that means is that four trees will be planted within the city of Claremont in an effort to expand our urban forest, not necessarily on the properties of which they were removed,” explains Community Services Director Kathleen Trepa. “The area on Mr. Hollifield’s property is limited. It will be need to be the right tree for the right space.”

The new trees are expected to be planted in the fall of 2015.

Further complicating the issue, the city’s Designated Street Tree List offers three replacement tree options for the 100 block of Green Street—Black Acacia, Coastal Live Oak and Forest Green Hungarian Oak.

“All three species are known to be allergen trees,” says Ms. Trepa. “The city will work with the two property owners to find a replacement with lower allergen levels. The request will need to go through the process with the Tree Committee, the Community and Human Services Commission and the City Council for approval.”

While some may be reluctant to go through the arduous tree approval process again, Ms. Perreault is undeterred in her mission to care for her child’s health while being conscious of the effects her choices will have on the Claremont community.

“I’m focused, dedicated and really honored to have a presence during the discussion because besides allergens, the overall aesthetics for the neighborhood will be considered,” she says. “That matters to me, too.”

—Angela Bailey



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