Trunk show: Market Street resident protests spruce felling

There's something about Market Street, something that seems to prompt otherwise law-abiding citizens to embark upon civil disobedience despite the prospect of getting hauled off in handcuffs. Several times over the past five years, it's been resident Louis Schultz, who fought for– and eventually won– the right to let "weeds" grow tall as a riparian buffer. On Tuesday, April 10, Market Street resident Robin Hanes was arrested after refusing to move from the base of a towering spruce that was facing imminent destruction.

"It just hit me; I couldn't handle it," says Hanes of the moment she realized that the tree at the corner of Market Street and 18th– two blocks from her home– would be coming down to make way for the planned construction of two new houses.

"They could build the house 10 feet down the hill," she says, "and leave the tree."

Hanes isn't a garden variety tree-hugger; she sits on the Charlottesville Tree Commission, a City Council-appointed board created in 2010 to advise the city on its urban forest.

While she acknowledges that she has no legal right to make demands of someone else's property, Hanes (who is the significant other of the Hook's "Black&White" photographer Bill Emory, who also sits on the Commission) says the felling of a tree she estimates to be at least 75 years old offends not only her personal sensibilities but also her civic view. She contends that despite Charlottesville's already high percentage of tree canopy for an urban area, there's room for improvement and public education.

"People need to recognize that these big trees are part of our history," says Hanes. "They're as valuable as architecture."

Her protest ended after land owner/developer Joe Milby called police. Warned on several occasions by Charlottesville police, Hanes sat firmly against the spruce's trunk for two hours thereby blocking contractors from doing their work. At approximately 2:45pm, after Milby himself arrived to demand that Hanes vacate the property, officers handcuffed her and charged her with trespassing, a class one misdemeanor.

Milby declined comment, but apparently did not experience a change of heart based on Hanes' protest. On Wednesday morning, April 11, the old spruce was felled.

Hanes will appear in Charlottesville General District Court on April 17. If convicted, she faces up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Read more on: Robin HanesTree protest


The caption of the first photo should read "Woolen Mills neighborhood". Your link to the Charlottesville Tree Commission doesn't work.

It's too bad they're cutting down another big tree. This is going to be a hot summer indeed if the tree removal continues.

I doubt the tree lady was protesting when the trees were cut down to build her own house, the furniture in her home, or to make the paper for the books she reads. Sometimes it seems people can not see beyond the length of their own limbs.

75 years? That tree had a good run...good post Restore the Republic.

In this part of the world trees are the vermin of the plant world, so pervasive, invasive, and fast growing you have to fight to keep a little bit of open space free from them. Fly over this area and look down for the proof, or drive around and find you can't see anything because you're hemmed in by ranks of GD trees.

"The Japanese have a word, aware, that describes the feelings that arise from the poignant beauty of an ephemeral thing. The word refers not to the loss of the thing itself, but to the human feelings evoked by its passing. I'd like to invent a word to describe the human body's beneficial response to the secret elements of forest air. Maybe bringing the concept under the net of language would help us embrace the idea that in saving forests, we may quite literally be saving ourselves."JA

At UVA the citing of the new addition to the drama complex was altered ignificantly at the last minute in order to preserve a huge white oak tree. Compromises can be made.

Poor genteel lady, buys a house and 2 buffer lots down yonder in Woolly Head land and mean guy cuts down a tree so 2 more genteel ladies can buy houses he builds. Ain't it just awful??

Robin is blessed with time and resources others don't have. (Too much time on her hands) So she can do things like cry about other property owners acting well within their rights. You can bet a few acres of timber went into rebuilding Robin's house on Market. But those trees were not in fancy shmancy trendy holier than thou neighborhoods.

Just out of curiosity I wanted to know how many trees it takes to build your average stick built home? Well, as you can imagine, the numbers are all over the place because you need to define tree size, the square footage of the home, whether you have a cedar shake roof, wood siding, etcetera. Whew! And some folks, like the little pigs, make their homes out of straw, which some may argue are just shorter cousins to trees that get no respect. However, an average 2000 square foot home, with an average amount of wood product – no straw – takes roughly 60 trees; add a deck and the numbers just grow.

So, if Robin lives in an average 60 tree wooden house, did she basically bark up the wrong tree and with the charges wind up out on a limb? Just askin'?

Something about Woolen Mills that attracts and fosters eccentric complainers.

There is no doubt that Tom Frederick is behind this outrageous project to clearcut this property in order to support his massive dam and pipeline boondoggle project. We should write letters and sue him.

Although I haven't flown over Charlottesville in a long time and drive around it as little as possible, I do walk many miles in it every week -- most of them miserably shadeless miles. I have no idea on what data City claims of a high tree canopy percentage are based. But I do know that dozens of acres of City trees have been lost to developers in the last decade (at Huntley, at Brookwood, at Cherry Hill, et al.) and that more trees are lost daily to mistreatment (like massive mulch muffins), mischance (like being hit by cars), and misdeeds (like the cardinal sin of blocking an "Available" sign).

Check out Raleigh, a truly well shaded cityscape:

Perhaps the city should have only spent 5.6 million on free housing for drunks and taken the last million and "purchased" conservation eeasements from some wonderful trees that are in the path of development.

bill marshall:

FYI, the City of Staunton has instituted Agricultural and Forestal Districts inside its limits and recently lowered the acreage required for such status. Yes, that means forgoing some tax dollars. But it also means that green spaces and traditional land uses are preseved. And, as one City Councilor noted, the City doesn't have to spend a cent to educate a cow. Nor, one might add, does it have to extend such services to trees.

The city already has rights to plant trees in all the easement areas between the sidewalks and the streets, It would be great to plant more trees as long as we could find someone smart enough NOT to plant them underneath power lines or in areas where they will cause acccidents due to line of vision issues.

I do not remember anyone protesting the razing of the giant Himalayan Fir that once stood in front City Hall only to replace it with brick, stone slabs and a Visitor's Center. Do the citizens of Charlottesville really value mature trees? I imagine it would be foolish to build a house near the felled tree since so many old trees are falling into local houses every year since the last drought. The residents of the Venable neighborhood once bought a house because they were opposed to its conversion from a single family home. I guess if one wishes to control the use of a property, one should buy it. Of course, though, there is eminent domain forever lurking.

bill marshall:

Few Charlottesville streets offer plantable space between sidewalks and curbs. (In fact, many of our sidewalks are so narrow that two adults cannot walk them side-by-side.) And even when space is available, very poor tree choices are often made for them -- for instance, Asian ornamental plums (a short-lived, pest-prone, alien species that couldn't supply enough canopy to cool a cat) along Sixth Street S.E., where true shade trees could have helped reduce cooling costs at Friendship Court.

Unfortunately, maintenance factors regularly trump environmental ones in selection of street trees. Trees with small leaves that conveniently disappear on autumn winds will always win out over oaks (except willow), sycamores, beeches, etc. Meanwhile, only understory trees -- that is, ones meant to live in the shade of others -- can hope to avoid assault by the Asplundh assassins.

Cville Eye:

I was one of a number of people who protested to City Council the removal of the whopper Deodar Cedar that stood on the then grassy triangle in front of City Hall. Among other things, I noted that if the reason given for its removal -- i.e. that it blocked the view -- was indeed a capital offense, then Lewis & Clark Square, which blocked (and still blocks) an equally valuable view, also had to go.

Of course, the whopper bus stop has since completely blocked the same view.

It's really very simple people if you follow the rule even Robin might take a chill pill. For every one you cut down plant two. Got it? Get it? Good.

For anyone who would like to see a photo of the trees cut down in this controversy, check out the website and go to his black and white blog page.

Thanks, Anna Lane. Those trees appear to be leaning. Were the roots stable?

Hmm, do not know about stability of the spruce's roots. They seemed to be doing their job. But I did enjoy your comments about Lewis and Clark Square. Very funny.

Were the trees taken to mill so they can be made into something? Or were they chipped? Anyone follow up on this? Likely taken to mill to be made into something that Robin and Bill will consume unknowingly. What a joke timber lots are all around VA thousands of acres of timber lots owned by big logging operations. But a couple of old spruces in fancy shmancy belmont has people whining like babies. Nobody knows if the roots were stable or if they were harvested into consumer goods. Uninformed whiners who use products made from timber every day. Wha! Will the hook follow up when new trees are planted?


Actually, I'm the hapless tree-hugger who noted Lewis & Clark Square's view-blocking to City Council. "Great comment," said a City Councilor. Then the tree accused of view-blocking was cut down.

And when I was a fourth grader at McGuffey, I got up a petition to save the massive mulberry tree on the playground. Adminsitrators wanted to cut it. All kids wanted to save it. (It was our lunch bench, our jungle gym, our pretend-like horse, ad inf.) My petition borrowed from poet Joyce Kilmer. Each signable page was headed with: "'I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree.' We want to keep ours." I got lots of signatures. The teachers at McGuffey were impressed. "Cute," they said. "Good for you." Then the tree was cut down.

Story of my life. Story of the lives of the trees I try to save, too.

Antoinette, are you already a tree steward? Are you in my class? If not, you should check them out.... Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, or CATS for short. They can make good use of someone like you, and give your tree passions a constructive direction to follow. Plus, you speak with clarity and humor, so you should keep talking, whatever the subject, but it might as well be about trees, right?! I'm sure the felled mulberry was grateful for your 4th grade efforts. Why not make it a life-long pattern? There are tons more trees out there that could use a beautiful voice speaking up for them.


Thank you for the thoughts. I work for trees constantly in one way or another. I've added more than two dozen to my City property over the last 25 years. I'm also a Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardener happy to supply tree information, advice, hands-on help, etc. whenever I can. And in four decades of writing for newspapers and magazines -- for one of which I wrote regularly on gardening -- I've often taken trees as subjects.

In particular, I've spent the last eight years standing up (in person, in writing, at meetings, behind the scenes) for the threatened trees on the three acres at the intersection of Ridge Street and Cherry Avenue. At least 20 native species grow in that steep-sided, stream-cleft ravine. Notable among them is a naturalized grove of rare-in-Virginia Kentucky coffee trees (Gymnocladus dioica) likely descended from ones Thomas Jefferson grew from seeds George Rogers Clark sent him from Kentucky in 1783.* Also notable among them is a towering, wide-canopied, double-trunked sycamore with a base circumference of 22 feet. So that mini forest is both an environmental asset as a whole and home to individual tree treasures.

However, in February of last year, when I asked Tree Stewards for support as neighbors and allies rallied to protest the latest development plan that would destroy the woodland, I received from CATS's president, who'd just been profiled in the Daily Progress as a champion of all trees all the time, an incomprehensibly rude rebuff.

Politics, almost never good for trees, presumably played a part. Whatever the case, I think I'll continue my tree-hugging career as a freelancer finding humor wherever I can.

* See: "Consider the Coffee Tree: a Plant with a Provenance," by Peggy Cornett, in the 2009 edition of Magazine of Albemarle County History

Interesting about the rebuff. It seems we must continue to re-learn that people can be strange.
I will look for that sycamore, it must be huge and beautiful.
It sounds like your tree passions are already well ventilated. Way to go!

Anna --

Thanks for the attagirl.

Yes. People can be strange -- and in the case of Tree Stewards' president, strangely uncollegial. And when such strange people front organizations and institutions, they can make the practical world stranger for all.

About the whopper sycamore on the Ridge-Cherry property: It's a specimen tree wonderful in every respect. It's naturally healthy while being unnaturally large and impressive. As a thriving denizen of its micro zone, it's even more remarkable.

To wit: I learned of this tree in the 1990s, when I was getting to know the early 19th century neighborhood around my ca. 1850 home on Oak Street. In 1999-2000, I witnessed the sycamore's survival of an un-permited attack by heavy equipment sent in to level, clear, crash, bash by Dr. Charles Hurt, who'd bought the property in 1999. I met this tree personally in 2004. Seeing then how well it was doing despite how much earth had been disurbed around it by the illegal bulldozing was impressive. Then, later in 2004, I made its up close acquaintance in the company of Doug Coleman, founding director of the Wintergreen Nature Foundation. The fact that the tree was both enormous and healthy knocked Doug's professional socks off. So it was interesting to learn that property owner Southern Development's well-paid arborist had recently declared it sick and in need of removal.

Debate ensued -- debate on the tree, on development of the property, on why the City would not stand up for the family cemetery that all evidence located on the lot, ad inf. After being outed for dissing a very fine tree, SD subsequently pledged to make the sycamore the centerpiece of an arboretum that would enhance a massive mixed-use project.

Slight problem: The massive mixed-use project was so massive that there was not the slightest chance that a tree standing a few feet behind its proposed finished footprint would survive construction. Nevertheless, SD pretended otherwise for several civic cycles on a completely ill advised project. In February 2011, however, SD's new found pretend-like partner -- William Park, to whom SD wanted to filp the property for an even more massive subsidized rental project -- admitted to Planning Commission that the fabulous sycamore would have to be cut.

A majority of councilors vetoed Park's project. But that veto hasn't saved the sycamore or the coffee tree grove or the stream (whch SD's well paid consultant said doesn't exist) or the ravine (a remnant of the Ragged Mountains drainage basin). So the site still needs the support of true tree appreciators. Like you I hope?

A major contributor to our weak economy, millions starving around the world, millions dying from Malaria, so many people out of work is those who put their special interests (trees, owls, frogs, a 2" long fish, the fairy tale of man made global warming yadda, yadda, yadda) in the way of growth. The lunatics are running the asylum.
We should have built thousands of nuclear plants by now, we are paying dearly, in many ways, by catering to the fringe of our society.

Trees are not "special interests." Indeed, they are essential to quality of human life -- because they are essential to air quality, water quality, ad inf. -- and they enhance that life in uncountable other ways.

Ms Roades, many thanks for your recap of some of the tawdry events surrounding the William Taylor Plaza development. The outright lies and double-dealing surrounding this project still angers me to this day.

Re Southern Development, the new breed of arrogant young man developers exemplified by Charlie Armstrong and Paul Beyer is every bit as bad as their scotch-drinking Farmington-golfing forebears. The only difference is that these young'uns wrap their greed in a mantle of zealotry. Planning Commissioner Dan Rosenzweig recently stated publicly that Charlie Armstrong is his hero. This is yet another example of how the system is gamed solely for the benefit of developers, and against the citizens.

" Planning Commissioner Dan Rosenzweig recently stated publicly that Charlie Armstrong is his hero." These two gentleman are currently working together on Burnet Commons Phase Two - The Woods which is to be sited near Elliot and Ridge. Of course city-owned property will be a part of this project.

@Sabbath Lily...there are many more who benefit from development than the "greedy" developers. Real estate agents, architects, plumbers, carpenters, manufacturers, material suppliers...another words all of the many industries and businesses that are involved in building something. Many of these people are your neighbors, friends, family…

@Nelly, there's development... and then there's development. Some is good, but some is really bad. Unfortunately, we don't often do development very well in Cville. If you honestly think that bad development doesn't have a deleterious long-term effect on a community, you're not using your noggin. Do you maintain that a development that's centered around lies, graft, and the destruction of someone's heritage is a good thing?

I think this story is an interesting commentary on urban development. I am a Woolen Mills resident who lives a stones throw from the felled trees. Yes, they were beautiful and I miss them dearly. But the Milbys have the right to do whatever they legally have the right to do on their own property.

I've heard countless residents bark that he is doing something 'unsustainable'. Really? Is urban infill an unsustainable development approach. Rather than find a completely virgin slice of land (look further into Woolen Mills near the Rivanna) and tear down, oh, maybe 30-40 trees, the Milbys chose to utilize an already developed site. If you aren't aware, this is one of the core principles of the US Green Building Councils LEED system... build on an existing site.

Granted, he could have invested an even greater amount of time in the design of his home to save the trees... adjusted the configuration, bridged the footings to allow root growth, etc. But these interventions cost money that most individuals don't have. As soon as you complicate a building footprint, up goes the price of building.

This 'not in my backyard' approach has unfortunately soured a potentially fruitful relationship with a developer. I just hope the Milbys decide to stay in their new home considering the welcome they have received. Have the Woolies considered what would happen if he DIDN'T decide to live there?!?! He'd want the biggest return on his buck, meaning the biggest, most cheaply built monstrosity you've ever witnessed.

So play nice people. I know he wants to replace the trees that were felled with new trees. They are good people, give them a chance.

Sabbath Lily:

Well put. And it's happening yet again on the north side of Elliott Avenue. On May 7, Councilors will vote to give three-and-a-half acres of land adjacent to Oakwood Cemetery to Charlie Armstrong and Dan Rosensweig for 45 units.

Never mind that the land's assessed value is $371,700. Never mind that building on it will increase traffic and every other sort of stress on the already overstressed Ridge Street Historic District. Never mind that selling it will foreclose forever any expansion of Oakwood Cemetery.

N.B. Charlottesville and Albemarle County have only two public cemeteries -- Maplewood and Oakwood. Maplewood is full and has no expansion option. Oakwood is nearing capacity and now will have no expansion option, although I'm sure that its expansion was the reason the City purchased the adjacent land in the 1940s and '50s. Those who have the least will suffer the most from the lack of public burial ground, which this community has provided for more than a century and a half. And those who think of Oakwood as their family cemetery will have to go elsewhere. Meanwhile, Charlie Armstrong, who refuses to accept responsibility for the Hawkins family cemetery on SD's Ridge-Cherry land, is making publicity points by offering plantings for Oakwood.

Charlottesville Tomorrow quaintly describes the land about to be given away as "near Oakwood Cemetery," as if there were some separation. C-VILLE refers to "old Oakwood Cemetery," as if it had ceased to serve many years ago.

And other misrepresentations abound. The project grew, quoth Jim Tolbert, out of a neighborhood "charette" about a year ago. (I'm a neighbor. I knew of no such thing and can't find a neighbor who knew. Even had we known and participated, however, a charette in which self-selected individuals talk in abstract terms about what they'd like to see does not constitute due process vis-a-vis divestment of public property and endorsement of a particular project. As for such due process, there has been none.) In fact, it grew out of an idea Blake Caravati floated last year because he wanted a City development on the Oakwood land to incorporate adjacent land that he owns.

We're also told that the land is a degraded dump site -- that being the excuse for giving it away. In fact, what's dumped there is dirt removed from newly dug graves and a few low piles of other organic matter. The only inorganic matter there is weed barrier fabric.

What is degraded, of course, is good governance. Where it should be, we have chronic cronyism that results in ever more aggressive investment of our assets in a wellness program for developers.

Ex-Mayor Maurice Cox is a partner in Burnet Commons Phase II and ex-Mayor Blake Caravati wants to be involved in Burnet Commons (North) with Southern Development using city-owned land? Imagine that. I wonder if there is a low-income housing partner pre-selected as with Phase II? Has Piedmont Housing Alliance fallen out of favor with the City?

Habitat for Humanity in Charlottesville (Dan Rosensweig is Executive Director) is little more than cover for developers who would like to get away with far more than they would be allowed to do without that association. The much hyped development at Sunrise Trailer Park is a bunch of small boxes for the poor folk in an ugly apartment building sited near 30 yuppie homes that are by far the largest part of the development.

The historic house associated with the old tannery on the corner of Carlton Ave. and Rives St. was destroyed for the project as was another lovely historic brick house on the corner of Rives and Midland. A few other small houses were destroyed too. No effort was made to design the structures they built to harmonize with the remaining tannery building, a beautiful example of Flemish Revival architecture and no effort was made to save the other buildings, which by the way were all occupied by low income families. To do so would have limited the number of market rates houses that could be built, the real goal of the project.

Excellent posts, troops. The question is how people like you, who're obviously observing acutely what's really going on, let the clueless know how bad a job their robo-elected Democrats are doing vis-a-vis their stated goals.

We have a situation, not just here, but everywhere, in which all sorts of individual and community values have been commodified -- Affordable Housing, Carbon-Emmission Reduction, et al., ad inf. [capital letters intended]. I understand the urge. To put negotiable value on what might otherwise be construed as vague personal values, has -- or had -- the potential to make those who don't care about anything other than their own bottom lines do things that might actually be good for others and even for all.

But commodification immediately -- and perhaps predictably? -- opened the field to industrial-strength manipulation. E voila, we have such frolicking bedfellows as Charlie Armstrong of Southern Development (yet another enterprise of Dr. Charles W. Hurt), Dan Rosensweig (of Habitat for Humanity, which began with the likes of Jimmy Carter tapping his hammer for the truly housing-deprived and has become yet another mega earth-eating developer), Paul Beyer, a New York University film making major in a tearing hurry (during a national slowdown in the residential building that's his family's business) to star in a film of his own making, Piedmont Housing Alliance (begun by Francis Fife and one helper intent on helping people figure out how to order their finances enough to buy modest homes and morphed into a builder of many and various market value houses), and William Park, a not very good builder of boring stuff who's become an adroit entrepreneur of public sector capital (notably, the negoiatable tax credits issued by Virginia Housing Development Authority). They're all using the same rhetoric. They're all gaming the same system. And they're all getting away with it.

Real bottom line: Ever since the economy went off a cliff in '06 or so, the only pot of money available to developers of whatever pretence or stripe is the taxpayer supplied pulblic pot. And that pot includes not only cash in the form of outright grants or sale-price reduction or elimination, but also in the form of donated land, waived regulations, tax credits, etc
So, the revised question is: When do citizens who care about real stuff break through this messaliance and turn public officials back into what they were always intended to be more than anthing else, i.e. stewards of public assets instead of wheeler-dealers in public assets from the doling of which they derive personal and/or poltical benefit?

@saywha?...I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The remaining tannery building has to be one of the ugliest buildings ever built; I swear it has to be haunted. The new building at Sunrise is actually a vast improvement to what was there, tastefully done in my opinion. The people living in the trailers who are going to move there are more than delighted with their new home.

@Antoinette, that sure was a lot of words that are at best uneducated to the industry that you are railing at and BS at worst. Are you serious? Or was that an attempt at humor? You go through and list the "greedy" developers...
By the by, the recession was not felt in the building industry in this town until 2009.

@Antoinette W. Roades, you are 100% correct. HAC member list:>.
Charlottesville's Housing Advisory Committee has Dan Rosensweig (ex. dir. of Habitat) is the Planning Commission's sole representative, Southern Development as a voting seat, as does JABA, Habitat, AHIP, PHA, Region Ten, and CRHA. What's the problem, each has financial dealings with the City. Of course, individually they support their colleagues' requests to the City orally at Council meetings or in writing as does the Advisory Committee itself.
@WhoaNelly, Antoinette W. Roades is very educated about this industry, very educated. I am glad you recognize that it is an industry, implying there's a lot of money being made using city resources. Enough money for example that Rosensweig could move from a PHA home in Belmont into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. Yes, she's VERY educated.