Tree removal for Windsor's Bell Village project draws opposition

  • Eric Wee of Windsor, Monday Feb. 24, 2014, is leading the opposition to the razing of five nearly century old oak trees, three of them here, which are to be taken out for Old Redwood Highway road and sidewalk improvements as part of the Bell Village development in Windsor. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

In a town where the official logo is an oak tree, cutting them down is not taken lightly.

But a couple dozen trees, including five large Valley Oaks, along Old Redwood Highway in Windsor are scheduled to be removed soon — perhaps by the end of this week — to make way for street improvements associated with a new shopping center and residential project.

A couple of the bigger, three-foot diameter oaks facing the ax are estimated to be 150-to-160 years old, according to a consulting arborist.

Even though they managed to survive the construction of Old Redwood Highway in the 1920s, the coming street improvements have set them squarely in the path of modernity.

"Most people in the community don't realize such big trees are going to come down," said Eric Wee, a Windsor resident who started an online petition to stop the destruction of the century-plus "heritage trees."

The trees are being removed to make way for Bell Village, a mixed-use project with 387 multi-family dwellings and 83,500 square feet of commercial space, including an Oliver's Market.

Windsor officials say the trees are being taken out to accommodate new sidewalks, parking and bike lanes along Old Redwood Highway that were a condition of the approval of Bell Village.

They say they have done everything to spare as many trees as possible and in fact the developer had an initial plan that would have taken out even more.

The Town Council several years ago took a field trip to examine the trees on the 25-acre Bell Village property, which was previously the site of the Windsorland mobile home and trailer park.

"The council walked the project, looked at every single tree on Old Redwood Highway and trees within the property and we saved quite a few," said Councilwoman Deb Fudge. "But when you're building a grocery store and putting in bike lanes, parking and roundabouts along Old Redwood Highway, to get those improvements some trees will have to come down."

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