Old elm tree coming down in Hinsdale
This American Elm tree on the 400 block of Hickory Street is more than 100 year old and is scheduled to be taken down and removed as part of a home rebuilding process. | Chuck Fieldman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 3, 2011 9:18PM
One of Hinsdale’s oldest residents is on its last legs.
This particular resident is of the non-human variety. It’s an American elm tree in the yard at 416 W. Hickory St. John Finell, Hinsdale’s forester, said the tree could be around 100 years old. It has a diameter of more than 50 inches.
The tree, and another on the same property, is scheduled to be taken down so that a new house can be built. The previous house on the site was demolished. Mark Hickman, president of Hickman Homes, which is building the new home, said he didn’t know when the tree is scheduled to come down, but added “it will be soon.”
“Obviously I am disappointed that a tree of this size and stature is being removed, but I understand that the decision is in the hands of the homeowner and builder,” Finnell said.
Hickman said the homeowner preferred to keep the tree, but that option wasn’t feasible.
“If you built completely around the tree and at some point the tree had to come down because of its condition, you’d probably have to spend about $10,000 at that point to take it down,” Hickman said, adding the cost now to remove the tree is about $1,000. The tree will be sent to a facility where it will be cut into usable wood.
The planned removal of the old elm tree was a topic of conversation at the June 13 meeting of Hinsdale’s Environment and Public Services Committee.
“It’s very sad that it will come down,” said Patti Davis, who lives on Madison Street and shares a lot line with 416 W. Hickory. “It’s more than 80 feet tall. It’s a treasure to the village.”
George Franco, Hinsdale’s director of Public Services, said the homeowner plans to plant several additional trees on the property.
Tree preservation has been an ongoing topic of conversation and concern in Hinsdale. The village’s Beautification Task Force spent about three years investigating and working on a tree preservation ordinance to protect trees on private property and strengthen the village’s existing ordinance with regards to construction.
However, without the authority to impose fines for violations because Hinsdale is not a home-rule community, the village’s voluntary tree preservation ordinance is more of an effort to let residents know they often have options to removing trees from their property.
“It’s an effort on our part to create awareness and open dialog,” said Trustee Laura LaPlaca, chairman of Hinsdale’s Environment and Public Services Committee. “We have people here who may be able to help find an alternative for someone who is thinking of getting rid of a tree.”
The new voluntary ordinance asks for a 15-day notification to the village by anyone planning to remove a tree on private property that is 8 inches or more in diameter.
Finnell said the property owner at 416 W. Hickory did give such notification.