Town Council: Bye Bye Pecan, No Demo, Tax Hike Planned

Highland Park town leaders expect crews in early October to remove the historic monarch pecan at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road.

The town with assistance from Preservation Tree Service has worked since 2017 to reverse the decline of the 150-year-old landmark but to no avail.

Preservation Tree arborist Micah Pace told the town council in June that the severe decline of the tree would continue until its removal. Town staff updated the council on Tuesday about the removal plan.

The plan involves removing the tree and rootball in October and harvesting however much wood can be salvaged for use in commemorative projects to be determined later.

Town Administrator Bill Lindley noted that old pecan trees often have hollowed out trunks, making it difficult to project how much useable wood one may provide.

As part of the initial plan, the town will sod the tree site and arrange to use a nearby tree for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

After residents become accustomed to its absence, the town could consider options next year for turning the site into a park or finding a replacement tree.

Mockingbird Home Spared

Scott Brei’s home at 4509 Mockingbird Lane has escaped demolition, at least for now.

An order by the council in June to repair, remove, or demolish the substandard buildings on the site automatically converted into a demolition order on July 10 after Brei failed to meet town timelines for obtaining engineering reports, hiring a contractor, determining a scope of work, and taking out a building permit.

However, before the town hired a company to tear down the house, Brei managed to complete the required steps. Town leaders plan to monitor the work needed to make the home safe.

Town officials have been working since March to get Brei to make repairs to the home, which they say poses a risk to occupants and neighbors alike. The roof is bowed with the chimneys leaning in, and the house is in violation of several codes with a lack of utilities, hazardous wiring, and water intrusion.

Tax Hike Coming

Town leaders are eying a 1-cent property tax rate increase to ensure the town has the money needed to fund its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) over the next decade.

A new state law going into affect next year will cap the amount of money the city can gain from property valuation increases in the coming years, potentially causing the town to come up nearly $11 million short in its CIP.

But by raising the tax rate one cent this year, before the cap goes into effect, town leaders anticipate having the funds needed. The town, unlike many other municipalities, prefers to fund capital projects with available funds, rather than issuing bonds.


William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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