Letter to the Editor: City should do more to protect its trees

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These two trees at 5333 Connecticut Ave. NW may be removed after suffering construction impacts. (Alexa Perlmutter/The Current/July 2017)

Randy Speck, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G (Chevy Chase), is to be commended for standing up for trees in our neighborhood in general, and for observing that Cafritz Enterprises has apparently not lived up to its promise to protect two mature red oak trees in front of its building at 5333 Connecticut Ave. NW.

As reported in The Current’s July 12 issue, Cafritz failed to use permeable materials in its circular driveway as agreed during the building permit process. Connecticut Avenue at this location carries heavy traffic on six lanes, which already puts the trees under almost unbearable duress. As a result, it would have been particularly important to provide the roots of the two trees with suitable surface space and soil to absorb much-needed rainfall.

In light of the damage done, the proposal of the Urban Forestry Division, housed in the D.C. Department of Transportation, to hold Cafritz responsible for replacing the oak trees — or one of them if one can be saved — and for follow-up care and maintenance through 2019 seems too small a price to pay for having violated the agreement.

The negligence in terms of tree protection in this case raises the important question of why the Transportation Department failed to monitor the agreement with Cafritz and why it did not step in and insist on compliance with the agreement to use permeable materials at the time the circular driveway was constructed.

Recently a considerable number of mature trees have been cut down in the Chevy Chase area, and I fear that this trend may continue as long as the city does not monitor tree protection more rigorously and the price for removing mature trees remains small.

Ulrich Hewer, Chevy Chase