The Falls Church Episcopal Church removed three ash trees from its property without a permit Monday, creating another rift with City of Falls Church officials and especially its neighbors in townhouses along E. Fairfax Street.
Howls of protest came from the neighboring Olde Church Mews Condominium Association, already upset with the aesthetic and safety consequences of the church’s plans to locate temporary trailers on its property to use in its church school programs this fall. A call by one of the neighbors to the City arborist, Jill-Ann Spence, brought Ms. Spence to the scene Monday, but only after the three trees had been felled.
She ordered that no further cutting be done by the church. While the church had filed a site plan permit for the temporary trailers at City Hall, it had not posted the bond for it and thus the plan had not been approved. The approval was required as permission for the trees to be removed.
City and church officials met yesterday morning to iron out the problem.
The Rev. Rick Wright, a pastor at the Falls Church Episcopal, told the News-Press Tuesday that, while the church understood its options to be either a relocation of the trees or their replacement, it went ahead with plans to remove them and replace them at a later date.
“When we contacted a tree specialist, we were told that relocating these trees was not an option, that they would die if it were attempted at this time of the year,” Wright said. “Therefore, we decided to go with the option of removing them and replacing them.”
“Our mistake was that we did not communicate our intentions with the City and the community,” he said.
In fact, on Aug. 8, Wright appeared before the Falls Church Planning Commission to explain the church’s plans and at that time indicated the trees would be relocated.
Friday, August 26, 2005