Above: Orange fencing around this tree didn't stop it from being cut down, resulting in a major fine.
Cedar, protection fencing bulldozed in Meadows subdivision
by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — An old-growth cedar tree flagged for protection was instead felled to make way for new homes, resulting in a $15,239 fine.
KB Homes, builder of The Meadows housing development adjacent to Olde Mill Stream off North Main Street, will have to pay the fine before construction of houses in the neighborhood’s second phase can begin, according to Chad Sary, Wake Forest’s Assistant Planning Director.
A first phase was partially constructed by a different builder prior to the recession. Construction of homes recently resumed with KB Homes for the remainder of the first phase and work on phase 2 is beginning as well.
While a KB Homes contractor was clearing trees on the future Ferry Court for phase 2, the protected 24-inch-wide tree was bulldozed. Ferry Court extends off Barnford Mill Road just east of Coram Fields Road.
“The tree stood out back there. Everyone’s known about that tree. It was very impressive,” said Chris Schafer, the Coram Fields Road resident who originally alerted the town to the problem. “There was a large amount of trees — they completely flattened the trees back there.”
Most of the trees are not protected. But Schafer’s property backs up to the clearing, and he was dismayed to see what he said was clearly a protected tree come down.
After unsuccessfully getting a town inspector to take notice, he took a photo of the downed tree and sent it in June 11 using the town’s smartphone app Report It! function.
“The site inspector did not seem concerned or bothered by these terrible actions,” Schafer said when he sent it in.
Sary said it’s hard to understand how the mistake was made, as buffers and tree-save areas are on the construction plan and were protected visually by bright orange tree protection fencing.
In addition to the fine, the builder will have to plant three additional trees, 8-inches wide each.
“It’s disappointing. Even though there’s a fine and replacement, it still will be a while before those newer plantings will be the size (of the downed tree),” said Sary.
The builder will also have to provide a replanting plan and work with the town’s urban forester, Evan Keto, to implement it.
A development representative could not be immediately reached for comment.