Post #468: Wawa protest

Posted on November 24, 2019

This is just a brief followup to Post #467, regarding Wawa’s clear-cutting of the alleway right-of-way between the Wawa lot and the adjacent residential lot.  As noted in the prior post, Wawa had agreed to keep three large silver maples, but cut them down anyway.  This removed all the natural screening between the Wawa and the neighbor’s back yard.

I would say that more than 30 people showed up, at one time or another, yesterday morning, to stand in front of the Wawa and hold signs protesting the removal of those mature silver maple trees.  (I believe the organizers put the number closer to 50, but in either case, it was a crowd.)  This included a couple of Town Council members and one person from the Planning Commission.  Enough passing motorists honked in support that there seemed to be general support for the protest.

The largest tree left a stump 42″ across.  The cut was too rough to allow the tree rings to be counted.  There were rumors that the tree was more than 100 years old, but my best guess is that the tree was probably around 55 years old, based on a couple of crude formulas I found.  (That’s based on the typical ratio of diameter-breast-height to stump diameter, and then a crude formula for estimating tree age by species, for landscape trees, given on this website.)   That building on that site is about 45 years old, so arguably, my best guess is that these trees were roughly contemporaneous with that building.

The Town’s Facebook posting on this event is short.  Here is, I hope,  link to the Town’s Facebook posting on this.  According to the Town of Vienna, Wawa has reportedly agreed to plant a dozen roughly 6″ diameter trees to replace the three large silver maples that were destroyed.  This will be in addition to a solid vinyl fence and landscaping to be installed in front of that fence.

How this happened, exactly, is still not clear.  I have heard from several credible sources that some Town official gave permission to take down all the trees in the alley right-of-way.  But the Town’s official position is that this was a mistake by Wawa’s contractor.  If past experience with the Town of Vienna government is any guide, we’ll never know what the true story is.

The Town makes no mention of the developer forfeiting the tree bond for this project.  The fact that the Town does not mention that leads me to think that the builders actually did have the Town’s permission to take the trees down.  But, because the Town is great at stonewalling things like this, that’s speculation.

I doubt this will even affect the Town priding itself on being an officially-designated tree city.

My only other thought on this is that there is no longer any reason, other than cost, for Wawa not to build a masonry wall at the back of that property.  That would likely be a better barrier to sound transmission than the proposed solid vinyl fence.