Some Wellington residents in northeast Charlotte are saddened over the city’s recent removal of two-dozen Bradford Pear trees at their neighborhood’s entrance – a scene that may play out in other suburban neighborhoods.
The city plans to replace the trees, which are on a city-owned median on Katelyn Drive. But for now, the neighborhood entrance off Prosperity Church Road looks like a clear-cutting zone.
Tim Porter, the city’s arborist, said a member of the neighborhood’s homeowner’s association contacted the city about the health and safety of the trees. He said thousands of Bradford Pears were planted in city neighborhoods in the 1980s and ’90s, but the trees are nearing the end of their lifespan.
They are known for their white flowers in the spring, as well as their unpleasant smell when they are blooming. They are not native to the United States.
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“They were the go-to street trees,” Porter said. “But they are within this 30-year range, and they are now falling apart. They are naturally weak-wooded. The wood is very heavy and they grow to a point where they can’t support themselves.”
Porter said the city will be cutting down more Bradford Pears in the future.
“We have a lot of requests (to cut them down), and I’d love to have the resources to do that,” he said. “Usually we do it in very small doses.”
He said the city has two main problems with trees. One is its aging tree canopy of oaks in neighborhoods like Myers Park. The other problem is aging Bradford Pears in suburbia.
“We have removed hundreds, if not thousands of Bradford Pears,” Porter said.
The trees can be a safety hazard, he said. He said they catch wind very well, and “the force is overwhelming.”
Jeremiah Rogers, president of the Wellington HOA, said he contacted the city to make sure the trees were safe after neighbors asked.
“I understand why people are angry,” Rogers said. “They are beautiful trees. But the HOA has done an excellent job of looking out for the best interest of the neighbors.”
Rogers said the city never told Wellington when it was going to remove the trees.
Porter said the city hasn’t decided what it will plant instead. Among the possibilities: Oaks, maple or elms.