Live Oak Trees Removal Causes Uproar

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Devlin Wilson is an artist who has painted many of Mobile’s live oak trees downtown…

“These trees are so important to what I do in downtown Mobile,” said Wilson.

He can’t believe crews are clearing away decades old live oaks for the new Hilton Garden Inn at St. Francis and Conception. Others who came out, were also disappointed.

“We were just very surpirsed that they had torn down 5 trees on st. Francis street,” Kim Richardson, Mobile.

“I don’t understand what the impact of having those trees right there next to the sidewalk have to do with the development of the building,” said Sandy Gibson.

And many are wondering how this fits with the city’s plan to preserve downtown. John Switzer who runs the Crescent Theater and other establishments downtown told us via Skype, he’s run into walls before even trying to make small changes to his buildings. He wonders how such big changes were approved.

“I’m trying to put up a fence and it’s like I have to go through hoops,” said Switzer.

Switzer tells us he was surprised when the developer told him, he had to clear fixtures behind his building to make way for the new hotel.

“Cause usually the Architectural Review Board would put a sign out on the street saying that this permit is pending approval through the architectural review board,” said Switzer.

We went to Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson to clear up some of the concerns.

“There were two mistakes made, one is the developer made an assumption, that he had the permits in place, and then the other one was, within the city we issue a land disturbance permit, without having issued the tree permit,” said Stimpson.

Mayor Stimpson says the developer will be ticketed, and tasked to replace the trees.

“I know this from talking to him, Mike Cowart feels bad.”

Wilson says he will continue to paint new pictures of downtown – and he welcomes progress, but for now he says the images of the trees being uprooted, will be unsettling.

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