(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) The Town of Vienna says that directions from the town’s arborist led to Wawa chopping down trees last week, which sparked an uproar among locals.
The town said in a press release today (Nov. 26) that it is working with Wawa to reach out to neighbors behind the construction site (465 Maple Avenue W.) “to address impacts resulting from last week’s removal of trees.”
The town added that Wawa has offered to plant 12-15 new trees in the spring to replace the three silver maple trees that were removed, which included one that was roughly 60 years old.
The town said last week that the tree removal “was due to an onsite misunderstanding and human error.” In the press release today, Vienna officials say that Wawa followed the direction of the town’s urban arborist.
More from the press release:
In a preconstruction meeting a few weeks ago, the Town’s arborist advised that, in his professional assessment, the trees on the Town’s property between Wawa and the neighbors’ property would be negatively impacted by construction activity and would almost certainly die within the next three years. He commented that the trees, which already showed signs of rot, decay, and disease, would need to be removed now or in the future.
“Both parties can accept some responsibility for removal of the unapproved trees,” says Town Manager Mercury Payton, “and we’re all very sorry for the impact this is having on Wawa’s neighbors. I am certain that Wawa would not have removed those trees had it not been recommended by our urban arborist. I wish that he also had offered to assist Wawa with revising and resubmitting the site plan.”
“We appreciate that the Town of Vienna recognizes our commitment to rectifying this situation and our resolve to work together to support the neighbors,” says Lori Bruce, public relations manager for Wawa. “We remain committed to going above and beyond to be a good neighbor and a strong partner to this community.”
The Town of Vienna is committed to sustainability as well as to being responsive to citizens. Vienna has been a Tree City USA for 17 years and has a very active, Council-appointed Conservation and Sustainability Commission. In addition, the Town’s recently renovated community center has achieved gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) while the planned new police station is being designed to achieve LEED silver level.
In recent days, the town and Wawa received backlash from residents who told ABC7 that they were upset that Wawa cut down the trees that were not on the company’s property.
“While this was an unfortunate misunderstanding as we were operating with the guidance of the municipal arborist, right now we are 100% focused on rectifying the situation,” Wawa said in a statement to ABC7. “This includes going above and beyond to address this and working hand in hand with the town and the neighbors to ultimately serve as an enhancement to the community.”
“It will take five years for the trees to mature to create a buffer. Until then there is no barrier to the construction and subsequent traffic of a 24/7 store. Our backyard privacy is gone,” Ingrida Lusis, a Vienna resident whose house was next to the trees, according to ABC7, posted on Facebook.
The town will not impost a fine on Wawa, Lynne Coan, a spokesperson for the town, told Tysons Reporter.
“I’m not sure about who will be responsible for [new] trees,” Coan said, “I believe the Wawa representative and neighbors will work that out when they meet later this week.”