Days before Rehoboth Beach was set to celebrate the relaunch of its tree donation program, seven-decade resident Kitty Cole called the city out for allowing the removal of two large oak trees from a Virginia Avenue yard that’s kitty-corner to her Olive Avenue property.
“I’m really upset,” she said Oct. 16. “The city has this tree ordinance, and to me, this has to be a violation of that ordinance.”
Cole said she went out to run some errands Oct. 15, and when she returned, all that remained of two large shade trees were 3-foot stumps. She said both trees had to be at least 100 years old.
“It’s a shame. They were so beautiful,” she said. “They were two of the prettiest trees in Rehoboth.”
Cole said she complained to City Arborist Liz Lingo about the removal of the trees and was told the property owner threatened a lawsuit against the city if they weren’t allowed to remove the trees.
In an email Oct. 16, Lingo said she didn’t tell Cole the owners threatened a lawsuit.
The city issued a demolition permit on the property for a two-story single-family dwelling in March. According to information posted in the driveway, the city issued a building permit Aug. 28, for a two-story single-family dwelling with a pool.
Lingo said the tree-removal permit was issued as part of the building permit.
According to the city’s tree ordinance, a property owner has to meet at least one of seven criteria to be able to remove trees. Lingo said the property owner met criteria one and seven – the trees are located in the net buildable area of the lot and the trees prevent reasonable development of a lot.
Twenty-four hours after the trees were removed, orange protective fencing surrounded the saw dust-covered stumps. Lingo said during demolition, the trees are required to be protected, because until the city has building and tree plans, there is not enough information to make that assessment.
Cole, whose property also overlooks the far eastern edge of Cranberry Park and Lake Gerar, said it’s a shame the city lets a bunch of grass grow around the lake, but then they’ll let these beautiful old trees be cut down.
“There’s no way those trees were in the way,” she said, resigned to the fact that they were already down. “Somewhere along the line, the city needs to slow down.”