Old Trees Come Down, Tempers Rise Up

A few residents in one Gulfport neighborhood are seeing red where they once saw green. Green trees that is.

They became upset after a neighbor recently had seven 200-year-old live oaks cut down from her front yard. Neighbors say this type of action is a travesty.

The city of Gulfport says she didn't do anything wrong.

"I didn't see those trees cut down until this morning, and I mean I literally stopped in the middle of the road," said neighbor Pam Stennis.

The new view is causing quite a ruckus in the usually quiet Bayou View neighborhood.

"It's just so sad. It looks like a tornado has gone through down there," said Stennis.

On Wednesday, 80-year-old Doris Deas had seven live oaks removed from her yard, a yard neighbors said was one of the prettiest yards in the neighborhood.

But it's a yard Deas said requires a lot of work, and she does not have the strength to do it anymore.

"On April 4th of this year, my husband passed away of a massive heart attack. And even before he died, he said, 'Doris, we've got to do something about getting these trees out of the way. We cannot keep this up.' Everyday it was raking leaves, acorns, sticks, or something, and I mean that went on all the year," said Deas.

So Mrs. Deas decided to lighten her load by getting rid of the trees, but only after talking to the city of Gulfport, who unlike other Coast cities, did not argue her request.

"We're unique that we do not have a residential tree ordinance. If a tree is on your private property, it doesn't matter if it's an Oak tree, a Magnolia, or whatever kind of tree. If you want to cut it down, that's your right and you can do it," said City of Gulfport Optech Company representative Melvin Evans.

Mrs. Deas said she knows exactly what she is doing. She plans to have the yard landscaped, making it look even better than before.

But neighbors said history cannot be replaced.

"It's too late to do anything about it but maybe this very thing will make people aware of how important it is for us to put some sort of legislation and law in place to prevent people from just whacking everything down," said Stennis.

Melvin Evans said a residential tree ordinance is currently being worked on within the city's tree committee.