(WJLA) - Towering above the homes here off of Oldchester Road in Bethesda are what many residents consider a part of the area’s charm and character.
“It’s a very attractive street,” says Brad Creer, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. “A lot of people moved on this street because of the trees; it’s such an important part of the beauty and the comfort of living on this street.”
But in the last couple of years, neighbors say the trees have started to fade, and blame it on a local developer buying properties in the area for changing the canopy.
“A lot of the neighbors are very upset about this – these are huge trees that have taken decades to grow, and you can’t replace them. They’re not replaceable even in our lifetime,” says resident Cathy Bendor.
Frustrated neighbors planted signs in their yards to make sure their voices were heard loud and clear.
But Carole Sherman, the president of “Bethesda Too, LLC” paints a much different picture, saying she never intended to remove the trees. She also added that the ones that were taken down at the corner of Oldchester Road and Wilson Lane were done at the advice of an arborist, who told her they were unhealthy.
According to a report: "Neither of these trees are good candidates for retention based on industry standards for retention after construction impacts along with the listed defects observed in the field. Both trees will be considered Extreme Risk trees with a very likelihood of failure impacting both properties."
Tyler Holt says Sherman offered to remove them from his property, but felt pressured to do it himself:
“Our arborist said they were healthy enough, they would last for a long time, but we felt these trees are on our property and her construction was going to damage them – so we felt in some sense that it was a little bit unfair.”
In an email, Sherman noted that she saved some of the trees on an adjacent street, and despite the buyer’s request to have some removed, she pointed out some of the homes nearby don’t have large trees in their front yards either. She added: “I know change is difficult. It is a fact of life and people cannot expect everything to remain the same.”
Sherman admits to removing about 10 or 11 trees at different properties in the neighborhood, saying that some of those were in the immediate path of the home and that it’s all relative to the size of the property, which ranges between 1,100 square feet to nearly 18,000 square feet. She reiterates that many of them were left untouched.
“There are ways things can be done that don’t limit what someone can do with their property, but also protect the environment and help preserve the character of the neighborhoods,” said Cathy Bendor.
But those who are protesting the developer feel that the changes have only uprooted their peaceful and quiet neighborhood.