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Monday, May 27, 2024

Developer plans to raze oak trees, some hundreds of years old, to build car wash in Ogden

The oak trees at Islands Fresh Mex Grill in Ogden are at risk of being cut down to make room for a new carwash after the landlord of the property sold it.

Several oak trees in Ogden are at risk for being razed to make way for a new carwash (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)
Several oak trees in Ogden are at risk for being razed to make way for a new carwash. (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)

OGDEN — Islands Fresh Mex Grill in Ogden, just north of Wilmington, will soon be moving down the road since the owner of the land decided to sell the property. While $1 tacos might not be going too far, some residents are concerned with future plans for the location and the several-hundred-year-old oak trees located on the property.

On Monday afternoon during a Board of County Commissioners meeting, Michael Werner of the Ogden Preservation Group voiced concerns over plans for the property that includes a new carwash and the destruction of what he calls 250-year-old oak trees.

“This a property that has a higher density of live oaks in this city and they are going to completely clear cut it — for of all things — a carwash, like we need another carwash,” Werner said to the commissioners.

The project has already been approved according to Werner, despite resistance from the Planning Board.

“They fought bravely against it but finally had to approve it because of virtually non-existent protection of our large historic oaks and preservation oaks. You couldn’t get through anywhere like Hilton Head where you can’t even cut a live oak down,” Werner said.

Werner encouraged the county commissioners to do something to intervene with the plans before it is too late. According to Werner, the company developing the carwash will only be charged $39,000 to cut down the trees.

Some of the oaks, according to Werner exceed 57-inches in diameter meaning they could be upwards of 400 plus years-old, he said.

“These are some of the largest oaks in this county,” he said.

County Commissioner Woody White was unaware of the situation, he said and asked Planning Director Wayne Clark to verify Werner’s claims and explain what is being planned.

Clark said that since the land is zoned as B-2, a carwash is a permitted use and a rezoning would not be required and board approval not necessary.

Commissioner Rob Zapple asked Clark if there was anything the board could do to prevent the razing of the oaks to which he responded, “I am not prepared to answer that.”

Werner has since taken to Facebook in the hopes of sharing his message with the community and gaining support to help save the oaks.

Related: After years of work, local group manages to save the ‘Ogden Oak’

This is not the first time he has taken on the cause of saving old oaks in the area. When the Publix was being built in Odgen, Werner and his organization fought to have the developer preserve the oaks on the land.

The group did manage to save the oak trees at the Publix shopping center and even managed to get one of the massive trees moved to save its life — an $80,000 project that even got the North Carolina Department of Transporation involved in.

According to Islands’ sign, it will be opening a new location off Gordon Road this fall, the new store will be located near the former Harris Teeter at Gordon Road and Market Street.

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