Some in Prairie Village irked by planned removal of massive oak for teardown-rebuild project

Tree removal Prairie Village

Prairie Villagers don't want the above tree at 5225 W. 69th Street to be removed. It still stood tall the morning of June 29. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.

Some Prairie Village residents are upset about the pending removal of a mature oak tree as part of a teardown-rebuild project off Nall Avenue and W. 69th Street.

The bigger picture: Residents like Barbara Dooley are concerned not only about this specific tree at 5225 W. 69th Street, but about how common shade tree removals appear to be across Prairie Village.

  • Dooley, whose family has lived next door to the tree for 60 years, told the Post she feels like the city’s tree canopy is disappearing as a result of the teardown rebuild phenomenon.
  • Dooley said the tree is likely between 75 and 100 years old. She knows it has been at the property at least for the past 60 years.
  • Additionally, she said she and the other neighbors know there’s nothing they can do to save this specific tree.
  • Deputy City Administrator Nickie Lee told the Post via email that, according to public works, the tree was still there the morning of June 30. Lee said she does not know when it is to be removed.

PV tree ordinance: The pending tree removal comes more than a year after Prairie Village implemented an ordinance intended to preserve its aging trees.

  • The ordinance includes protections for four different categories of trees, along with specific criteria that must be met for trees to be removed for construction purposes.
  • Still, the ordinance does not completely prevent tree removal. If a tree is dead, diseased or dying, it can be taken out and replaced.
  • Lee said the tree will be replaced with another tree, but in a different location.
  • Additionally, if there is ongoing construction and specific criteria are met —such as the tree causing a financial burden on the applicant — the tree can be removed.

City comments: City staff confirmed via email that the tree removal was approved by the city and followed the tree ordinance process, meaning it is not in violation of the ordinance.

  • Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft told the Post in an emailed statement that the building official worked “with the architect and determined that the way drainage needed to work on the property, it prevented them from reorienting the home.”
  • Bredehoeft said public works approved the drainage plan and “the new driveway construction, given the orientation of the new home, caused the removal to be approved.”
  • Bredehoeft confirmed the applicant followed the city’s process and submitted a tree removal permit that was ultimately approved.
  • Lee said public works does not believe it has the data compiled to speak to how many trees have been saved nor how many trees have been removed since June 1, when the tree ordinance took effect.

Key quote: “It’s an issue that people need to be aware of because it’s happening everywhere in Prairie Village, and we’re going to end up looking like another suburb of new builds,” Dooley said.

Key quote: “The ordinance does not prevent tree removal from private property, but it does make sure there are good reasons to do so,” Bredehoeft said. “We are having much greater success planting new trees and protecting existing trees on private property than prior to the ordinance. While all might not agree with the decision to remove this specific tree, I feel the process worked as designed.”