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St. Augustine neighbors lose battle to save 200-year-old tree

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Updated: 11/27/2013 8:18 pm

ST AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- It's a battle that's been brewing for months. Neighbors in St. Augustine's Mission Trace community were pleading with the neighborhood's developer not to tear down a 200-year-old oak tree to build a new house.

One neighbor even emailed the governor. The neighbors just lost their battle.

"It took 200 years to grow. It's going to take two hours to destroy," said Steve Brennan of the moments leading up to crews chopping down the tree.

For as long as the neighbors have lived in the quiet neighborhood, the ancient tree had been casting shade. Just 24 hours ago, the tree was cut down.

"My wife was saying, 'Well they murdered our tree.' That might sound really strong but we were all very attached to that tree," said Ken Bevan.

When Bevan and his wife bought their lot three years ago, they chose it because of the tree next door.

"We had flipped the house plans so we could sit in our breakfast room in the morning and look at the tree," he said.

Since, a new company, Lennar Homes, has taken over construction in the development. And the company removed the tree to build another house, even though neighbors begged them not to. The on-site office for Lennar Homes directed Action News to corporate. Our calls weren't returned.

"We've asked Lennar to sell us the lot because we live right next door and Lennar said, 'No, we don't sell lots we sell homes,'" Bevan said.

Wednesday, the community was in mourning. And as Bevan read the paper from his breakfast nook, he couldn't help but notice the new view. A shame, he called it, for the neighbors, and the tree.

"That tree was there during the war of 1812. God knows what that tree has seen. We'll never know," said Brennan.

The Bevan's said they were ready to fork over $50,000 to buy the lot. They then wanted to donate it back to city to construct a park.

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JasonF - 11/28/2013 11:49 AM
2 Votes
Cutting this ancient tree was an abomination -- corporate greed at its misguided worst. The old oak could have been a major selling point and in the long run, Lennar Homes would likely have profited more from keeping the tree than cutting it. If it true that people reap what they sow, perhaps we will be reading of Lennar Homes going bankrupt by this time next year -- now that would be JUSTICE!
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