The owners of the property just off West Market Street have agreed to revisit their site plans in order to possibly incorporate an old growth ash tree into the development, according to a group that’s banded together to save the tree and express its concern over the building plans. The residents set up camp next to the ash tree a little more than a week ago after other trees on the development site were cut down. Along with saving the tree, the residents also are concerned about noise, safety and the close proximity of the proposed bars to neighboring houses.
After a local outpouring last Friday, City Council has decided to revisit the plans, according to the group, also known as “Save Our Big Ash Tree.” A mockup of the development plans with the ash tree and two trees at the south of the building preserved are posted on the group’s Facebook page.
The Nemer family, which owns a number of area bars and restaurants, plans to build apartments, along with moving some existing businesses from across West Market Street to the new location. Roy Nemer said last week that he is a local businessperson who cares about the neighborhood and the community.
Hundreds of residents have come out to stay with the tree, taking rotating shifts day and night, said Julie Farris, who’s at the forefront of this effort.
She said when concerned residents first came out to protect the tree, they realized there were larger issues at play. “We just wanted to come out and save this old tree, then we learned that the place involved putting in an alleyway, putting in a large building that will include three bars, and a back patio where the sound is going to carry into the neighborhood,” said Farris.
Jodi Henderson, who has lived in Highland Square for about 10 years, said the protestors have been painted as jobless with nothing better to do. “I have a job. Most of these people in the tree do. Some of them are making great sacrifices for what’s important to them.”
Along with its original plans to raze the ash tree, developers will take down the “Blueberry House,” on whose property the tree currently sits. Group members said police visited the area last Thursday and demanded that protestors come down from the tree, but “Blueberry House” tenants have invited the protestors to gather.
The group’s Facebook page, “Save our Big Ash,” he reached nearly 400 fans and has served as an effective platform for residents to openly discuss this issue. The group organizers are encouraging everyone to keep the dialogue civil.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/BigAshTree.