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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Council hears report on homebuilder who cut too many trees

Not everyone sees landscaping the same way. However, it seems the city and D.R. Horton home construction company are narrowing the gap.

During its Tuesday work session, the Fort Worth City Council received an informal report updating them on the controversy involving the urban forestry ordinance violations at D.R. Horton’s Trinity Oaks development near the 8100 block of Randol Mill Road.

The company over-cleared over 60,000 square feet, resulting in the destruction of numerous trees.

“They had a bulldozer operator who didn’t know where to bulldoze and didn’t get clear instructions from their team,” said Fort Worth Director of Planning and Development Randle Harwood.

D.R. Horton and the city have now entered into a formal settlement. Terms of the agreement include replacement of a tree canopy the company over-cleared, and additional planting equal to five times the canopy removed illegally (total additional planting of 365,112 square feet).

“Reaching a settlement agreement with D.R. Horton is a step in the right direction in mitigating the loss of trees. D.R. Horton made an honest mistake and are taking steps to remedy that mistake,” Harwood said, noting that, along with the 5-1 tree planting ratio, a 1.4 acre loss of canopy will be replaced with 8.4 acres of canopy on site and on public property near the Trinity Oaks project.

It all began in July of 2016, when the company applied for a Phase 1 urban forestry permit to preserve 25.04 percent of existing tree canopy, and to remove the remainder. They also applied for a Phase 2 urban forestry permit for the required tree planting plan. The city issued both permits within days.

However, citizen complaints concerning both the southern and northern sides of the property led to a revised plan by D.R. Horton, the city holding the Phase 2 permit until Phase 1 compliance could be determined, and a subsequent request by the company that the city remove an additional tree canopy on the southern side to correct drainage issues. Following this request, the city determined the installation of roadways and retaining walls not approved in the original urban forestry plan.

The agreement allows the company to plant a portion as street trees in nearby medians. They will be required to maintain and guarantee these trees for at least two years.

D.R. Horton officials have submitted a proposal to plant 213,500 square feet on site and 152,400 square feet in the John T. White Road median.

“This is a fair and equitable solution to the over-clearing violation,” Harwood said.

Harwood also said D.R. Horton’s executive management has demonstrated that they are taking steps to stop this from happening on future projects by instituting corporate processes that create checks and balances that would prevent future over-clearing on their development projects.

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