Some upset over trees being cut down

June 1, 2009 (CHICAGO) A homeowner has decided to cut down more than a dozen trees on his property, some more than one-hundred years old. And many of his neighbors are upset with his decision.

One by one, the branches of the trees cut down in on Longwood Drive in the Morgan Park community were being fed into the grinder on Monday afternoon. Nineteen white oak trees - many we are told are over100 years old - were ordered cut down by the owner of the home who no longer wanted them on his property.

Neighbors are stumped over his decision to cut down the trees on this tree lined street.

"I feel sick about it. It's damaging a community asset. It's not just a private property issue. This is a historic neighborhood," said Carla Winterbottom, Morgan Park resident and activist.

According to Willy Whittaker, the owner of the home, the trees were cut down because they blocked his view. He said they were old and they were diseased.

"They were not diseased. I spoke to the arborists who are doing the job. They are visibly upset. They were not deceased. They were erfectly healthy oak trees," said Winterbottom.

Kathleen Tobin of Keeping Beverly Green, a group dedicated to saving trees says there are no laws against property owners cutting down trees. She refers to Mr. T, the Rush Street bouncer turned actor who cut down about 100 oak trees from his estate in Lake Forest in 1987, citing allergies as the reason.

"We have absolutely got to have restrictions on taking down 100 175-year-old oak trees in a community that prizes itself for its heritage of oak trees," said Tobin.

"I think there needs to be some kind of permit or review process before this gets done," said Winterbottom.

Some of the trees on Mr. Whitaker's property were over 175 years old. Neighbors say it is not fair to the community to cut them down.

"I think it would have been nice if they had kept president landscape with the trees although they was old and bent," said Randy Lowe, Longwood Drive resident.

Residents say the street will never be the same now that the trees are gone.

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