Homeowner calls sidewalk detour around tree an "eyesore"

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Colby Hodges loves his neighborhood.

"We love the area," he says of the 1960s era homes that line Nottingham West in the Memorial area. "The schools are fantastic."

He's happy the city is putting in a nearly $1 million sidewalk as part of its Safe Sidewalks initiative, except for one thing.

"I don't mind having a sidewalk even now if the city would just take out the tree," he said, referring to a towering pine right in the middle of where the sidewalk would go if it ran straight.

"The way they chose to engineer it," he explained, "it turns into an eyesore and turns into a property value issue for me that there is apparently no way around."

The sidewalk runs around the tree, closer to Hodge's home. It is within the city easement and doesn't encroach on his private property, but its edge is about 20 feet from his master bedroom window.

Hodges says he called two city council members and the mayor's office. One council member did confirm he tried to help but the tree is still standing.

Eyewitness News contacted Dale Temple, the city's top Urban Forester. He says city ordinance controls what trees stay and which ones come down.

"We assess whether the tree is in good condition, whether it's protected, if it needs to stay and if they can construct what they want to construct and preserve the tree," said Temple.

He told us he just learned about the Hodge's concerns and he plans to meet with a city inspector and Hodges, though the concrete is being poured today.

"The fight is slowly coming to an end," Hodges conceded, watching city crews work around the pine he'd just as soon seen gone.
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