Historical trees not out of the woods yet
By the Advocate Editorial Board
Jan. 2, 2018 at 4:21 p.m.
Updated Jan. 3, 2018 at 6 a.m.
When trees fell in historical Victoria on Christmas Eve, not only did everyone hear it, but the sound reverberated for days to come.
The harsh, angry buzzing of chainsaws ripped through the chilly morning air on East Santa Rosa Street and through trees planted in the 1930s by Victoria Mayor Ben Jordan.
Fortunately, the sound of upset residents seems to be drowning out those chainsaws, at least for the time being.
News of the removal of the trees is - and should be - upsetting.
We stand not only with the dismayed residents nearest to the felled trees but with all historical trees left throughout Victoria.
In this particular situation, the owners of the trees at 107 S. DeLeon St. were in their right to remove the trees, but it doesn't mean it's right.
Although we can no longer save those magnificent oaks, we can do our part to let our city know that more needs to be done in order to preserve our city's historically significant trees.
Tuesday evening, residents approached City Council to talk about the situation. They called on the council to strengthen regulations protecting trees like those cut down. We stand with their call to action and hope our City Council does its part to better protect our city's history.
Though tensions are high over the trees' removal, we applaud both the residents who are making their voices heard as well as the City Council, specifically Councilman Andrew Young, who designated a portion of the meeting to talk about the issue.
It's unfortunate and disheartening to know these trees, with their magnificent beauty and story, are now reduced to sawdust.
And although the owners of the property were within their rights to remove the trees, we feel it would have been a great courtesy to discuss their plans with neighbors. Of course, this is assuming they understood the significance behind the trees.
As of Tuesday, the property owners, Bud and Linda Hankins, could not be reached for comment, so we've yet to hear their reasoning.
The oak trees' removal reminds us of Gov. Greg Abbott's push last year to prevent cities from regulating what private property owners can do with their trees. His effort led to House Bill 7, which restricts fees municipalities can charge for the removal of trees on private property. Abbott signed the legislation in August.
In that instance, the governor and lawmakers over-reached by exerting state control over a local issue. Likewise, Old Victoria has its own unique history that should be preserved.
We hope our City Council can come up with some much-needed changes to help better protect our local history.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.