Long Beach developer cuts down 160-year-old oak tree - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Long Beach developer cuts down 160-year-old oak tree

Residents say they feel helpless. (Photo source: WLOX News Now) Residents say they feel helpless. (Photo source: WLOX News Now)
The city's tree ordinance protects live oaks and magnolia trees, but the decision is in the hands of the developer once approval is granted. (Photo source: WLOX News Now) The city's tree ordinance protects live oaks and magnolia trees, but the decision is in the hands of the developer once approval is granted. (Photo source: WLOX News Now)
LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

A 160-year-old oak tree in Long Beach is living in its last days. 

As the tree behind his house is ripped apart, John Casey says he feels helpless. 

"It was pretty gut-wrenching to see those huge limbs ripped off," said John. "It's 160 years old. This tree was alive during the Civil War. It's extremely healthy; it was extremely healthy."

While the developer - who plans on putting a new home in place of the tree - received the proper permits, John's brother George says doesn't feel any better about the situation. 

"I'm not a tree hugger. That tree right there, I can't even fit my arms around it. It's just too pretty, and too old, and a part of Long Beach history to let go," said George, a former member of the Long Beach Planning Commission who says he would've rejected the permit.

Alderman Gary Pontheiux voted to accept the planning commission's recommendation to give the developer a permit to take down the tree. But, his vote doesn't necessarily mean he's happy.

Pontheiux says that although he's pro-development, he hoped to persuade the developer to create a park.

"It's very sad," Pontheiux said. "I was really hoping that this tree could have been saved amongst this beautiful neighborhood."

Certified arborist Joe Loftus says he was asked for an estimate to remove the tree.

"I did that, but with the understanding that I would not take out the big, live oak tree," said Loftus. "I gave them my opinion on what they could do and they never got back with me on that. What's the purpose of having a Tree City USA if you're going to you know, take a bunch of them out." 

The city's tree ordinance protects live oaks and magnolia trees, but the decision is in the hands of the developer once approval is granted. 

WLOX News Now reached out to representatives of the developer D. R. Horton Homes, but they offered no comment.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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