City investigates removal of oaks from former Galleria shopping center

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At least two oaks were cut down without a permit at the former Galleria shopping center earlier this week. Photo courtesy Bill Jayne, Wilmington Tree Commission.
At least two oaks were cut down without a permit at the former Galleria shopping center earlier this week. Photo courtesy Bill Jayne, Wilmington Tree Commission.

The City of Wilmington is currently investigating the cutting down of at least two oak trees this week at the former Galleria shopping center.

According to city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert, there may have been “some confusion” when the developer of the site at 6800 Wrightsville Ave. near Wrightsville Beach hewed the large oaks without a permit Wednesday.

City ordinance mandates that developers may take down protected trees through a permit, and are required to note the locations of those trees on their site plans.

Talbert would not say much more regarding the incident, other than “different people are trying to get more information and decide what to do next.”

She said that investigation should be completed early next week, and the City of Wilmington would release the findings.

“We will make a determination if a citation needs to occur or what the next steps would even be,” Talbert said.

Marianna Boucher, head of corporate communications for McKim and Creed, the engineering firm overseeing the demolition project, said its client, State Street Galleria, LLC, applied for a tree removal permit with the City of Wilmington but was “advised it was not in their jurisdiction because it is a demolition.”

The street trees will remain, for now, Boucher said, but the interior islands on the lot continue to be removed.

Last year, Wilmington City Council approved State Street Galleria’s request to rezone the 12 acre site from commercial to an urban mixed-use designation.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.