HEDWIG VILLAGE, Texas — Neighbors in Hedwig Village are furious about a developer’s plan to cut down a more than a 100-year-old oak tree to make way for the construction of a new home.
Neighbors just learned the tree would be coming down on Friday.
At the intersection of N Lou-Al and Constance Drive, you’ll find a couple of trees that look different than the rest.
With arms that stretch the length of half a football field, there is one with red tape around its waist that has been growing for easily 100 years. Some even say it's been twice that long.
Michael Puig has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years and has been walking past the tree since high school.
Residents like Puig consider the tree to be part of their community. Hedwig Village even has a giant oak tree on its official logo.
Neighbors claim the tree and its sister oak across the street are joined beneath the soil by their roots.
They say they’re the last of the trees that once flanked the road leading to a single farmhouse more than a century ago.
“People come here because of the trees and what they provide emotionally and spiritually,” Puig said.
This is why neighbors became so upset when they learned a few months ago what is expected to happen to the tree on Friday.
“They’re going to cut this tree down, that’s so sad,” one neighbor said.
Neighbors say the property owner and developer have decided to take down the tree, along with several others on the lot, when they demolish the house and a newly constructed home will take their place.
KHOU 11 spoke with developer Saad Masrur with HAS Construction and Consulting on Monday. He declined to give a comment on the record.
“I was horrified that somebody would do that to this beautiful tree that has been here for over a hundred years,” resident Peggy Hemus said. “To me, there’s just a special place in hell for someone who would do this to such a tree.”
Professor Matt Festa at South Texas College of Law says there’s not much that neighbors can do.
“If there’s nothing on the books that says there’s a restriction on what people can do with their land, then the freedom is there for the landowner to do what they see is the highest and best use.”
If neighbors could prove their tree would be harmed by the other’s removal, they could have a claim, but it wouldn’t be easy to prove.
“Would be to say that another person’s decisions about their land unreasonably harmed their land,” Festa said. “But absent an ordinance, the presumption is in favor of the freedom of the landowner themselves.”
Neighbors say they wish the developer could see this tree has meaning to more than just the current owner.
“One student said this is the place where he had his first kiss with his girlfriend,” Hemus said. “I mean it has such history.”
And they’re still hoping the developer will reconsider.