Neighbors Fight for Tree

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 10/05/2013 7:29 pm

Lexington has been part of the Tree City USA Program for 17 years.

As the area develops, some neighbors are concerned one of Kentucky’s oldest trees could soon be at risk.

The tree, which sits on a hill at Harrodsburg Road and Military Pike, is a hybrid bur oak that dates back to before Kentucky was a commonwealth.

“It has survived drought, it has survived fires, it has survived the Civil War, it has survived the Revolutionary War, it has survived severe storms all while sitting on top of a mound of limestone,” explained Lauren Larson, a concerned neighbor in the Dogwood Trace Neighborhood Association.

Ball Homes, LLC is planning a development complex on land at the intersection of Military Pike and Harrodsburg Road.  According to their tree protection plan, the tree and 50 feet of its roots will be surrounded by a fence.

Neighbors are afraid 50 feet is not enough protection for this 300 year old tree’s roots.

“Because of its age and the type of tree it is, it has a shallow root system, it's a very sensitive root system and it's extensive,” explained Williamson.

The critical root zone is determined by taking the diameter of the trunk and multiplying it by either one or one and a half feet for every inch of the diameter.  For this tree, which is 72 inches in diameter, the critical root zone would be 72-108 feet.  Concerned neighbors want the maximum area protected.

“To put this kind of stress on the roots of the tree and not give it a barrier that is sufficient for its extensive root system the tree is destined to not do well,” said Lauren Larson, a concerned neighbor.

Rob Paratley, a curator for the University of Kentucky’s Herbarium and a forestry professor, has examined the tree.  He agrees, 50 feet is not enough root protection for this tree.

Concerned neighbors say to call, email or write council members to show your support for saving the tree.  

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council votes Tuesday, October 8, 2013 to re-zone the land.

The Special Council Meeting for the Zoning Public Hearing will be at 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 200 E. Main Street.

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