DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s an area Richard and Bonnie Brown call their “urban forest” – three quarters of a mile of trees that separate the Tollway from their North Dallas neighborhood. Now, it’s a forest with bald spots after Oncor began chopping last month.
“If Oncor moves forward with their plans, all of these trees are going to get cut down, and they really don’t have to,” says Richard Brown, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years.
The tree removal is to make room for new transmission lines. Oncor owns the easement. But first rain and then outcries from neighbors lead to a temporary moratorium after Oncor removed approximately 15 percent of the trees.
“No one’s going to argue that you have to cut some, but there’s no reason to go ahead and just clearcut and decimate everything that’s out here,” Brown says. “They’re just putting the ease of maintenance over the welfare of the community.”
Neighbors argue that the trees provide an essential service to the neighborhood, blocking both pollutants and noise. Arborist Steve Houser says there’s another concern: the integrity of the Tollway if the trees are removed.
“Those trees have roots that are all over under the Tollway. So what happens when we cut them down? Roots this big start to rot and decay underneath the Tollway,” he says.
Oncor says it wants to alleviate those concerns with the NTTA and is looking at every possible option. The Browns hope their “grassroots” efforts will ultimately keep their Forest Lane neighborhood just as it is.
“Our hope is that we can sit down with Oncor, that they’ll listen to reason, that they’ll be the good neighbor that we all want them to be for this community,” he says.
An Oncor spokesperson says there’s no date set to continue the clearing. Neighbors plan to start an online petition to continue their momentum.