Local News

Residents Tell Developer: No Tree, No Business

Posted June 15, 2007

— Southern Pines residents and a Cary-based developer are battling it out over a sprawling cedar tree in Southern Pines.

Residents want the tree saved, but the developer says it has no choice but to remove it. Tree supporters say if the tree goes, they’ll boycott the steakhouse restaurant MVOC plans to build in its place.

The State Historic Preservation Office will rule on whether the tree has historic value. Experts say to be called historic, the tree would likely have to be linked to a specific historical figure or event.

Whether or not a link can be made, Pete Gulley, who runs a garden center in Southern Pines, said tree supporters pack a lot of punch in the town.

“This is a real close-knit town, and everybody discusses everything, and everybody knows everything,” he said.

Southern Pines has a long tradition of fiercely protecting its trees. Residents have been known to tie themselves to trees to prevent their removal.

“Don’t cut the tree down. Whoever moves in there, you cut the tree down, no business,” said a woman on Broad Street, who declined to give her name.

“Just look at it, it’s absolutely magnificent,” said Joanie Bowder, a Southern Pines resident. “Everybody talks about it. Everybody’s protesting the restaurant.”

WRAL tried to reach officials with MVOC, but our calls were not returned. They told The Pilot newspaper that they considered building around the tree and naming the restaurant after it, but an architect told them it wouldn't work.


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  • djofraleigh Jun 17, 2007

    Having worked in forestry at NCSU in the 70s, I was oft told that there are more trees today than 400 years ago. The trees are probably smaller and less varied on average, but too the fires are controlled. Trees should be harvested at maturity for environmental reasons. At night, in winter, trees produce green house gases, and once near maturity they grow little so don't use much C02 anytime. If someone wants to champion nature, fight for letting wildfires run their course. Of course, then our homes would be burning as well. This is consumer bullying, but it is real. We see this often when a shopping center is built. The tree covers nearly a quarter acre.

  • oldrebel Jun 16, 2007

    Problem being with such a "proposed future boycott" is if the restaurant is built according to the architects vision, the tree will be gone regardless. Perhaps the developer should look for a more "green" architect that could envision plans that would accomodate the tree.

  • djofraleigh Jun 16, 2007

    If the people don't want a restaurant there - won't support it -don't build.

    Put the land up for sale to those who say it is 'their tree' and sell it -- Put up or shut up. Cedars are too deep rooted to move, and they grow to be very old. This tree looks past the point of harvest? Surely one of the tree supporters has a piece of property to swap for the tree property. If not, then 500 people can put up $500 each and surely $250,000 will buy the land and they can keep the tree. Once they own it, nobody can tell them what to do with their property. That's the America way. It's pretty easy to sit back and tell others what to do with their money and property, but that's one way everyone can still exercise their rights and have what they want.

    Lesson to other property owners in Southern Pines, if you have lots, go out and cut any trees down now, and don't let any grow if you want to someday sell your property. Lesson to those wanting to preserve certain trees, buy them now.

  • lollly52 Jun 16, 2007

    sure - intangible cost/value/goodwill. No harm intended...

  • elcid89 Jun 16, 2007

    "And I stand by my original statement regarding you being driven by dollars and cents."

    To the exclusion of all other considered / applicable factors. Earning an MBA does not magically program a person into being a profiteer or shut down one's ability to recognize that there are concepts in this world equally valid besides profit.

  • Steve Crisp Jun 16, 2007

    You watch this then. I can assure you that if they can't get the developer to accede as a result of their pressure, they will take it to their city council to enact an ordinance to try and prevent that tree from being removed. And if that doesn't work, they will try to get a restraining order from the court. They won't be successful, but they will try.

    I know liberals work. They can't get their way by majority rules because most of their policies are inane and the majority thinks they are nutcases, so they boycott and threaten elected officials and use the courts to suppress rights and freedoms. They use general apathy and obfuscation and outright lies to force their policies down people's throats all the time. Just go back and check out the articles on overlays and you'll see what I mean.

  • elcid89 Jun 16, 2007

    "These are policy questions and the problem is that as soon as someone jerks out the "isn't the envoronment worth it" point, all discussion tends to shut down"

    Much like conversation shuts down when you label people as tree huggers and envirowhackos. Civility is a two way street Steve.

    "I've never heard that in conservative meetings."

    You should hang out with the College Republicans sometime. It'd be an eye opener for you, I'm sure.

  • elcid89 Jun 16, 2007

    "What I find amazing, though, is that Mt. St. Helens blows its top and completely obliterates 150 square miles of wooded terrain with extensive tree damage to an area ten times that large, but I cut down 14 trees (half of which are dead or dying) and neighbors are trying to get restraining orders to stop me."

    The scenarios are not the same. In your case, I would not be able to lend any support to your neighbors actions unless, and solely unless, what you were doing in some way affected either their property rights (which is unlikely) or affected their property value (which is possible, but again unlikely.) In this case however, these people are simply saying we will not support your endeavor if you damage that which we hold dear. No one saying that he can't BUILD the restaurant. They're saying that they won't PATRONIZE the restaurant. They are different animals entirely.

  • Steve Crisp Jun 16, 2007

    "but can you really put a price on protecting the environment? (Consider that a rhetorical question in your case.)"

    And it is not a rhetorical question; it is the crux of the issue. By assuming it as axiomatic, you are putting it in the same category as "for the children" or "we must make sure everyone has medical insurance". These are policy questions and the problem is that as soon as someone jerks out the "isn't the envoronment worth it" point, all discussion tends to shut down. We have reached the point in our public debate than people can't debate anymore. Anything someone ways is either racist, homophobic, anti-environmentalist, or some other ist. Liberals are controlling the dialogue because conservatives don't have the guts to defend those ignorant labels that are comletely misapplied. I for one don't care and will defend my positions. But you should see what happens when I do it is a public forum. Nothing but snide catcalls. I've never heard that in conservative meetings.

  • lollly52 Jun 16, 2007

    "And I stand by my original statement regarding you being driven by dollars and cents."