More than a dozen trees removed along Arlington Drive will be replaced adjacent to Fox Automotive at the southeast corner of Rochester Road and Arlington Drive, where the business is constructing a new building to consolidate its Toyota and Volkswagen operations.
Plans were approved in March of 2016 by the Rochester Hills Planning Commission to construct a two-story, 25,697 square foot building addition in order to create a joint Toyota and VW dealership on the five-acre site. The plans include demolishing the existing Toyota dealership and enlarging the VW dealership. The new consolidated facility will be more than 39,000 square feet.
While the project called for removing a total of only seven trees on the site, several more trees along Arlington were removed when their root system was damaged during construction, said Rochester Hills Planning Director Sara Roediger.
"Preservation was important in the project, but as construction occurred, there was some damage to their root systems. They had their arborist look at them and it didn't look like they are likely to survive," she said.
The trees, which Roediger said were linden trees with a shallow root system, were also inspected by the city's arborist, who also confirmed the damage, with a low chance of recovery.
Roediger said Fox Automotive will replace the trees with a ginkgo bilboa species. In addition to the replacement trees, the plan calls for the addition of more than two dozen ornamental grasses.
"It's going to look nice," she said. "They also are putting in a sidewalk. It's important to have a tree-lined street."
Former Rochester Hills city councilman Scot Beaton voiced his consternation about the loss of the trees in an email to city officials.
"Bill Fox cut down all the beautiful trees on Arlington Drive, yet on the site plan approved by our planning commission, they were to be saved," he wrote. "Does not what we approve by the planning commission mean anything anymore."
Beaton said the roadway serves as the entryway into the Heatherwood Village residential area. He questioned why the trees were removed and suggested the project applicant pay a fine to the city and apologize for the removal of the trees.
Linden trees, also known as basswood, are a soft, light tree often utilized as an ornamental tree, according to the USDA. It's root system is composed of mostly shallow, lateral roots, about four to five feet deep.
The proposed replacement of gingko biloba are on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) list of trees not recommended for planting by municipalities. The trees, according to the department, have an unpleasant odor from fruit from female trees.
Roediger said the city is in the process of updating its woodland ordinance, which determines what types of trees are planted throughout the city.