Community works together to save historic trees in Ogden


OGDEN, NC (WWAY) —  After hearing several trees that could be hundreds of years old might be cut down in New Hanover County, a community has sprung into action demanding something be done.

Islands Fresh Mex Grill in Ogden posted that they would be moving, because their landlord sold the property. Developer Caliber Capital bought the property and plans to build a car wash. The developer applied for a permit to remove all 12 trees.

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When Michael Werner of the Ogden Preservation Society learned the property was sold, he contacted the county planning department.

“These heritage oaks, these 200, 250-year-old oaks provide a sense of place,” Werner said. “They give people a sense of meaning.”

When Werner saw the plans to remove the historic trees, he was outraged.

“All they had to do was pay $39,000 mitigation fees, which is a minimal fee compared to a multi-million-dollar cost of a project like this,” Werner said.

Werner reached out to county commissioners, the planning department, and the developer, and posted on Facebook encouraging others to do the same. On Wednesday Commissioner Woody White responded, expressing his support for the historic trees and asking for a new county tree ordinance.

“What we’re going to do on September 3 is address anything in the future, because it’s just… it’s not appropriate, in my view, to just allow carte blanche cutting down of specifically live oak trees,” White said.

We spoke to Mac McCall, president of the development company Wednesday afternoon. He tells WWAY he’s been in contact with the planning department, and they’re making changes to the plan to avoid removing any trees.

Shortly after, County Planning Director Wayne Clark released a statement, saying:

“My staff and I will be meeting with the development team for the property at 7032 Market Street this week to discuss modifications to their site plan in order to reduce the number of trees that would be removed. The development team has been receptive to this conversation. The county has not issued a tree removal permit for the site, so the developer is not authorized to remove any trees at this time.”