Brentwood resident livid after city cuts down oak

Brentwood resident Doug Gruder was still furious, pacing his front porch Monday morning, three days after employees of Davey Tree — authorized by the city of Brentwood — removed most of a 120-year-old oak tree in his front yard. He said he’s slept four hours since it happened.

He said he left for work at 7:15 Friday morning and came home to find most of the tree that once shaded his home gone. He was so upset he called Brentwood police. Chief of Police Dan Fitzgerald said Monday that they were called, but it’s a city hall, not a police matter.

“I’ve lived here 31 years. I loved that tree. It shaded my house. It gave me privacy. It was at least 120 years old,” Gruder said. “I just don’t get it. I can’t even imagine what their thought process was. It’s a muddy mess. They can’t replant grass now, they can’t replant a tree right now.”

Gruder said the city said it notified him by mail (mailed on Dec. 12); he said he never saw the letter. He said he can’t understand why the city didn’t make more of an effort to tell him his tree was slated to be removed.

The tree before being removed. The ivy on the tree was not there when it was cut down. Gruder had paid to have it removed.

What remains of Gruder’s oak tree after Dec. 24.

At 4:02 a.m. Dec. 25 Gruder emailed a letter to his aldermen, city administrator Bola Akande and mayor Chris Thornton, copying Brentwood chief of police Dan Fitzgerald and officer Jeff Manestar.

On Monday he emailed it to 40 South News. All capitalization and underlining are Gruder’s. Gruder’s letter:

Brandon,

First and foremost I want to thank you and Sunny for your patience and help in listening, taking your time, and working with me during the Christmas weekend to resolve what to me is a very serious situation…. a very egregious breach and violation of my rights as a tax paying citizen and property owner in City of Brentwood. As both you and Sunny already know, I am quite distressed and passionate about what has happened and how it happened.

Attached are pictures from Google Maps prior to my removing the Ivy less than 2 years ago. Also attached is the tree as it was left on Friday. The Scarring that you see in the picture of the chopped tree that was left in my yard was done by Davey Tree. One can clearly see from the pictures that the tree was healthy in those pictures despite the Ivy which I had had removed which would only have added to the health of the Tree. One can also see that My Oak Tree sits clearly on my property in the middle of my front lawn. Also attached are my broken and discarded lights, my torn up yard, and a picture of the Sugar Gum in front of my home with Dig Right Flags.

I have lived  in Brentwood for about 32 years, 31 of those years within the house I reside at now. I also operated and ran several businesses within Brentwood: Restaurant Installations Unlimited which was in Hanley Industrial Court for over 10 years and Applegate’s / Dickey’s. In all of those years Brentwood has made a few mistakes but nothing that has hurt and affected me as badly as this has.

The Oak Tree was a beautiful, old Oak Tree which was probably over 120 years old and as you can see from the pictures at least 60’ tall with limbs probably extending 30 to 40’ in diameter. It was classic and majestic. It gave my home curb appeal, privacy, and shade both on the south and west side of my home. It was also home to squirrels and birds.. the occasional owl and hawk. All of my Neighbors admired the tree and knew that I cared for it and that I maintained it.

Sunny Sims, my Alder Person, who lives around the corner from me, when talking to me on the phone Saturday morning said that when she drove home, past my house on Friday, she was shocked and dismayed as to what had happened to my tree. She expressed to me that she appreciated the tree and its beauty as she personally drives by it every day and could not understand why it was cut down!!! My entire neighborhood admired the beauty and grandeur of that tree because it was truly distinctive, magnificent, well maintained, and historically a part of the beauty of our little subdivision ironically called “Forest Hills”.

Forest Hills was originally built in an area that was home to a grove of many, many Oak Trees that had over the years, been removed for progress or because they had died. There was an Oak that was in my back yard that had been removed before I had bought the home. MY OAK TREE was one of the few Oaks still left. My Neighbor who lives on the corner of Brentwood and Pine was told by the Peter Van Lin of the City, that his Oak Tree was looked at by an Arborist and needed to come down… He brought in his own arborist in and the tree was deemed to be okay.

Trees with that kind of History and Grandeur should not just be arbitrarily cut down at the whim of some city employee. Trees such as MY OAK TREE should be looked at very carefully and preciously as they are a miracle. If there is any question as to the health of the tree they should be examined and all care should be taken to figure out how to maintain and or cure the tree. A Chainsaw is NOT a cure or a solution. I have never seen an arborist report in regards to MY TREE. I have never talked to anyone from the City of Brentwood in regards to MY OAK TREE other than in the last two days since it was brutally cut and hacked down, while I was at work, and behind my back through careless lack of forethought, proper communication, courtesy, decency, and consideration.

It’s easy to point to something that doesn’t belong to you, that you have no and zero investment in, that will not affect your life or home when you go home from your little bureaucratic office to your own home. City officials have NO RIGHT to play God so haphazardly with the people’s property just because they sit behind a desk and have a title. Don’t you think that on an issue as serious as the destruction of a 120 year old Oak Tree that clearly sits in a resident’s yard and on their property, not on the other side of a side walk,  that under no circumstance, any action should have been taken until I was personally contacted in some way and that CONTACT WAS CONFIRMED!!!

Isn’t a 120 year old Oak Tree worth more than some simple letter (which I obviously never received), worth a phone call, worth a CERTIFIED LETTER, worth a knock on my door, worth several notices, worth notice of more than 2 weeks (I was subsequently told by you that the notice went out on the 12th of December), WORTH A FACE TO FACE CONVERSATION AND DISCUSSION, worth more effort and care?????

According to the City I was sent a notice (which I never received, which Brentwood made no effort to follow up to make sure I was aware of) that they were going to cut down a 120 or more year old Oak Tree in less than 2 weeks. Consider the absolute travesty and destruction of a Living Entity that was so carelessly and egregiously carried out!!

The tree, ever so slightly leaned, as all trees do, not towards the street, but towards my home. There was NO DANGER of the tree ever falling towards the street. The trees was NOT diseased!! It was NOT hollow. It was NOT termite, ant, Carpenter Bee, or worm infested. The Tree was healthy and abundant with leaves!!! (see the pictures)  I have no idea who the arborist is who made his or her prognosis, however, if there was indeed an arborist hired, they were wrong (see pictures) and a second opinion should have been requested when determining the fate of such an Old Tree. When was the tree looked at? In the fall went it was barren of its beautiful foliage????  I should have had the option to hire my own arborist. CERTAINLY ANY DECISION MADE AFFECTS ME!!  If the arborist was an employee of Davey Tree than that is a conflict of interest since Davey Tree is in the business of cutting trees down. Davey Tree makes their money from cutting trees down.

In the 31 years that I have lived at this home I have maintained MY Oak Tree MYSELF. In the 31 years I have lived here I have personally or professionally had the tree limbs cut back and pruned.  Not once.. NOT ONCE in the 31 years that I have lived here, has the City of Brentwood raised one finger to cut down a single branch from MY tree. They never cut back any of the limbs that extended over Pine Ave. Not once has the City of Brentwood shown me or demonstrated to me in any way shape or form that MY TREE was their property, a City Tree, or their responsibility or on easement or right of way. In actuality Brentwood in both their inactions and actions have shown me just the opposite.

The only thing Brentwood has ever done in regards to MY TREE is to send me a Notification Letter in either 2014 or early 2015  asking me at my expense within a certain allotted time frame to cut back the dead branches that were overhanging Pine. During that time I was traveling full time for a living and when I came home and found the Notice, I immediately complied and paid to have the tree cut back and at the same time also paid to have all of the English Ivy Vines cut and removed from the tree. I loved that tree and I never had an issue paying to maintain it!

How can the City lay claims to MY TREE that they have never, in 31 years, had ever taken care of or made any effort to maintain? The tree clearly sits in the middle of my front lawn and not on Brentwood Property. There is no sidewalk on that side of my corner lot.  Last year, when Brentwood’s salt trucks sprayed salt and ruined my grass that runs along Pine and turns down Urban, the very grass that lay between MY OAK TREE and the street. I paid my gardeners to have the contaminated dirt removed, new dirt brought in, and grass replanted  between the tree and the street. Brentwood cannot take the position that I owned the tree and I was responsible for its upkeep and maintenance for 31 years and then all of a sudden Brentwood, on a tree cutting spree, claims the right of ownership of the tree or the right to cut the tree that they clearly never owned or maintained.

If Brentwood had ever owned the tree because of some supposed easement, that I do not believe exists, they certainly abandoned that right by never maintaining the tree and then on top of that, asking me to pay for the maintenance of the tree. Brentwood cannot have it both ways and that is what they have exactly asserted here and done by their actions in making me maintain MY TREE and then by their action of then cutting it down without my permission, the very tree they asked ME TO MAINTAIN!

WHAT WAS THE RUSH.  WHAT WAS THE URGENCY? WHAT WAS UNSAFE? WHAT OR WHERE WAS THE IMMEDIATE AND IMMENENT DANGER TO LIFE OR PROPERTY? WHY ON A CHRISTMAS WEEKEND? THE TREE WAS NOT ABOUT TO FALL!  WHAT DEEP AND DELICATE THOUGHT WAS GIVEN TO  ANY OF THIS? IF THERE WAS SOME DEEP THOUGHT OR LOGIC INVOLVED IN THIS DECISION, I CERTAINLY DON’T SEE IT. WHAT WAS DONE IS CRIMMINAL AND DESTRUCTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY!!!

My sister lives in Madison, Wisconsin and she told me that her city wraps a ribbon around all trees to be taken down by the city. Certainly had Brentwood been intelligent enough to have had that type of policy in place, I as other residents would know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the city’s intentions are!!!  All that I saw were Dig Right Flags around a tree that the city has no intention of cutting down. The other trees slated to be cut down also have Dig Right Flags around them. Again.. there was no indication whatsoever that MY OAK TREE was on any type of list. Why was this list not sent to all residents? Why was there nothing posted on any of the trees or light poles? The city posts signs all the time for other reasons. Why did no one personally hang a notice on my front door? WHY…. WHY ….WHY?????

IN RESPONSE TO YOUR EMAIL:

  1. I never received any Letter or Notification from the City of Brentwood in regards to the removal of MY TREE. I was told by you only on Saturday the 24th  that letters had gone out on the December 12th about Trees being cut down on Urban. You yourself told me today that you felt that a notice of less than two weeks was, in your opinion, not enough time or even PROPER notice. For me it was NO Notice because I never received it!!! I have not been out of town since June and I open and read all of my mail. Especially mail from Brentwood. I also maintain that my Oak Tree sits closer to Pine than Urban and there was NO signs whatsoever to give me any indication that Brentwood was considering removing MY TREE. Dig Right had placed flags around the sugar gum in front of my home on Urban there are none on Pine. The Sugar Gum tree clearly is a city tree. But since I had NOT received any Letter of Notification I had NO idea what the Dig Right Flags were for.
  1. Davey Tree failed to put any kind of Door Hanger on my front door. PERIOD!! IT WAS NOT DONE. Not 24 hours before they cut the tree and not even on the day they trespassed on my property and Killed MY OAK TREE!! When I came home on Friday at 3:00 I was in complete and total shock! When I got home I had to knock on neighbors doors to find out WHO.. What company cut MY OAK TREE down. I was absolutely devastated, in tears, and shaking… I was in such a state of shock and panic that I called the Brentwood Police for help! My neighbor across the street on Pine was home and he said it was Davey Tree. I called my House Keeper, Ann Witte, who comes every day to my house to let my German Shepherd out, to ask her who was at my home and who cut down my tree and she confirmed that it was two guys from Davey Tree. Sargent Jeffery Manestar of Brentwood Police can and will confirm the sequence of events of how we together discovered that it was Davey Tree. AGAIN… DAVEY TREE FAILED TO HANG ANY TYPE OF NOTICE OR DOOR HANG PRIOR OR AFTER CUTTING DOWN MY OAK TREE! I WAS NOT GIVEN ANY NOTICE WHATSOVER THAT MY OAK TREE WAS SCHEDULED TO BE REMOVED.  Just one week prior, I was even on the phone with Bola Akande, with the City of Brentwood, in regards to the decorative grasses on the island across from my home that had been cut down in winter instead of spring. We also discussed the 60 year Sugar Gum Trees across the street from my home that had been cut down simply because a new resident had put in a request for them to be removed. I had expressed to her that I was upset about the trees being cut down around my neighborhood. Obviously I care!!! During that conversation she made NO mention to me that other trees on Urban Drive were earmarked to be cut down. And most certainly she made no mention about MY OAK TREE because she probably did not know about it.
  1. According to my House Keeper, Ann Witte, and my Neighbor across the street on Pine, there were only two men on site at my house removing my tree. Both were crew members. I sincerely doubt of that either of them was a certified Arborist. The crew from Davey Tree came out of the Hanley Industrial Court office which is all but just about shut down. It was the Friday before Christmas…. According to Sargent Manestar, who went down to their office in a sincere effort to help me figure this out, told me that the Davey Tree Brentwood satellite office has been running on a skeleton crew because they are closing it down. I sincerely doubt, from all of the information that I have uncovered that a certified arborist from Davey Tree was ever present. Nor does that matter.
  1. Regardless of what the work order said, or whether or not Davey Tree cut the tree that the City of Brentwood Subcontracted them to cut, whether or not they cut the tree that that they were told to cut, whether or not an arborist was on site at any point during the act does not matter because IT WAS THE WRONG TREE BECAUSE I OWNED THE TREE!! It sits on MY PROPERTY, I MAINTAINED IT (by city Notification and request I owned and was responsible for the maintenance of MY TREE), it was healthy, and the city had no right to it claim it as their own. There were NO proceedings. THE CITY HAS NO RIGHT TO CUT DOWN A TREE THAT DOESN’T BELONG TO THEM. If there was something wrong with the tree I should have received Notification to do something about the Tree at MY OWN EXPENSE! Just as Brentwood sent me a notice 2 years prior to all this to cut back all of the dead limbs back at my expense! If it needed to be cut down… WHICH IT DID NOT.. it should have been my responsibility and at my expense. By asking me by Official Notice to cut down any dead limbs, clearly shows the City’s will full abandonment and responsibility or of their rights to determine the fate  of f MY OAK TREE without my necessary and rightful involvement.

Further, MY OAK TREE was chopped down on the Friday before Christmas and in the rain after days of Rain. Davey Tree’s men TRASHED and left ruts in my yard (which I paid to have airated and seeded just this fall), they pulled my solar Lighting out of the ground that ran along my driveway, broke them, and tossed them in my driveway. They broke a stone step loose between my driveway and stairs to my porch. Since they cut the tree down in the rain, and chipped it in the rain, there is a muddied wet mess of saw dust all in MY driveway and yard. My gutter on the South Side of my house is now overflowing with Oak Leaves. Many of the Tiles on steps that lead up to my porch (which I also had repaired and replaced this summer by Northwest Tile) are now broken loose from the substrate below from Davey Tree letting the tree limbs fall on them. Not only did they do it on the Friday before Christmas, but they did not finish the job, and they left a twenty-five foot tall limbless corpse in the middle of my front yard, which I now have to look at in disgust… the sight of it is crushing and affecting me emotionally. AND THIS WAS ALL DONE ON CHRISTMAS WEEKEND! WHERE WAS THE PROPER THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND ANY OF THIS!

This was the most horribly, misguided, mishandled choice of decisions that I have ever seen Brentwood make. It was the Perfect Storm of Blunders at tremendous personal harm to me emotionally and to my home and to my property physically:

  • The Removal of the tree has stripped my house of its curb appeal and in mine and some realtor’s opinions that I have spoken to, devaluated my properties worth. To own a property with such a tree such as a beautiful Oak Tree is very desirable because it adds charm.
  • The Removal has stripped my home of its Privacy.
  • The Removal of the tree and the tremendous shade that it provided has now exposed my home on both the South and West Side to direct sunlight during the Summer Months which is going to cause my Utility bills to drastically increase during the air conditioning months. The spring and fall months, when other people have had to run their Air Conditioning, I did not have to, because the tree shaded my home from Solar Gain.
  • My property was trespassed upon and damages were done to my property beyond the wrongful theft of MY OAK TREE.

I AM MAKING MYSELF VERY CLEAR AND I AM PUTTING THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD ON NOTICE:

AS THE SOLE PROPERTY OWNER OF 2028 URBAN DRIVE, BRENTWOOD, MO 63144:

I DO NOT WANT DAVEY TREE OR ANY BRENTWOOD PUBLIC WORKS EMPLOYEE, OR COMPANY, OR ANY ONE ELSE HIRED BY THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD, WITH THE INTENTION OF REMOVING THE REST OF MY TREE OR RETURNING TO MY PROPERTY TO PERFORM ANY WORK UNDER ANY AND ALL OTHER CIRCUMSTANCE TO SET FOOT ON MY PROPERTY, UNTIL ALL OF THIS IS RESOLVED AND AGREED TO IN WRITING BY ALL PARTIES. ANY ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE REST OF MY TREE, TO DO ANY WORK OF ANY KIND, OR TO SIMPLY STEP FOOT ON MY PROPERTY WITH ANY INTENTIONS OF ANY KIND, UNLESS INVITED TO DO SO BY ME, DOUG GRUDER, WILL BE CONSIDERED AS WRONGFUL AND ILLEGAL TRESPASSING AND I WILL PROSECUTE ANY AND ALL AS AFFORDED TO ME BY MY LEGAL RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW, BOTH CIVILLY AND CRIMINALLY!!!

AS IS MY RESPONSIBILITY, I WILL BE POSTING NO TRESPASSING SIGNS ON MY PROPERTY BEFORE THE WEEKEND IS OUT!

Gruder sent this photo to 40 South, showing that the trunk of the tree was not hollow.

60 thoughts on “Brentwood resident livid after city cuts down oak

  1. This is barbaric. The inhumanity towards the owner but also the total lack of consideration regarding the historical and beneficial aspects this tree. Shame on the people that took it upon themselves to do this. Decision makers who have no regards or respect of the community or the respect for this tree are why we have so many issues and problems. Personally, I am disgusted.

  2. As an arborist and founder of Living Tree Care, we’re in the business of saving trees. Tony Zebrowski of Clipper Tree told me once that the U.S. Has an over 680 million tree deficit. Part of the reason is that tree companies and individuals prey on people’s ‘fears’. Another reason is that city’s and municipalities, instead of seeing trees as valuable resources of water retention, value to property owners, and the air we breath just to name 3 of 300 benefits, they ( their lawyers) see them as liabilities.
    I can’t wrap my head around this, because I once attended a hazard tree inspection seminar that was given, my all people, DAVEY reps. There is a PROTOCAL to determining if a tree is a slight risk, a moderate risk, or a major risk. There are TOOLS available, I saw them and saw DAVEY demonstrate them. So I do not understand. As a tree care company owner, I hope that it falls on the city’s shoulder, for it is the CITY that has the resources, all kinds of time, and all kinds of money to go through the proper and carful procedures. Government will site homeowners for the littlest things but disregard their own bigger things. I am so sorry this happened.
    Wendell Phillips ‘Phil’ Berwick
    Living Tree Care comp
    PS / I would take Tony Zebrowski’s offer up on a consultation toward determining an AMENITY ( landscape) value of your tree. It will be many times more than the real estate value. The saddest part is not just that you lost your tree, but your community lost your tree.

    • Thanks for weighing in on this, Phil. Your sense of community puts this in perspective. To my neighbors: Phil, with his Living Tree Care Company, preserved my Elm Tree for many years–as he did with the Elms threatened in Elmhurst, Illinois. He’s one of the very best!

    • I beg to differ with Mr Berwick. I would recommend an Arborist who has a track record of Tree Apprasials and who is listed in case law referencing unauthorized tree removal, irreversible tree damage, property damage , negligence ,etc.

      There are many CONSULTING ARBORIST who would not have a conflict of interest .

      International Society of Arboriculture promotes education , awareness, and ethical standards within the profession. They certainly do not promote a desperate , ambulance chasing mentality that is on exhibit right here.

      Mr Gruder

      Do your homework!!!

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

    An arborist friend sent me this article today. I am an arborist who has experience with the legal issues of trees and have testified in court previously on the behalf of the client.

    I offer you a free look at the facts of the matter and to determine if my tree expertise may be needed in court.

    Tony Zebrowski
    certified arborist MW5287A
    tonyzeb@gmail.com
    314.602.7240

  4. Tonight’s Board meeting ( 7 pm, City Hall) gives everyone the opportunity to express their thoughts over the cutting down of Doug’s tree. It’s a long time between ballot boxes as the way to make our voices heard, while the public comment section of the agenda is a available every 2 weeks. That section occurs early in the meeting so you don’t have to stay for the whole meeting. You probably should just as a civics lesson! Come to the meeting, make your voice heard, make it count!

    Haiku for Doug: Stalwart friend long years,
    Limbs outstretched to sky, prayer,
    Embrace, nature’s gift.

  5. Mr Gruder

    It sounds like the contractor failed on many different levels.
    Was the initial tree inventory accurate?
    It does not appear that the correct mapping data was utilized.

    Was the tree in question , as well as the remainder of the city owned trees rated for health and safety accurately ?

    This oak does not appear to be a “hazard tree”. More likely suffering from old age but not truly exhibiting the classic signs and symptoms that are used to classify as a true hazard.

    It appears that the contractor did not do the required steps for notification prior to removal.

    They are clearly at fault!!!

    When sueung them make sure to obtain an APPRAISED VALUE report. This value goes beyond the cost to remove and planting.

    Good luck!

  6. Not only would I call a lawyer, I’d call all the tv stations too and have them get in the face of some of these people and get some answers. They need to be asked up front and if they don’t answer, they need to be seen doing the walk of shame running to their car, so everyone knows who they are and what they did.

    • Right on!!!
      This is B S!!!
      There is a protocol to follow.

      Obviously this was ignored.

    • Who exactly are “these people”? From what I have seen, the City has been more than responsive.

  7. From the looks of your picture frm google it definetly looks severely disstressed likely do do age and the vines that you allowed to grow on it. The lack of folliage in the crown is obvious.

  8. The usual response from Government and or utility companies that subcontract the work is that you have to sue the subcontractor to get relief. They claim that the subcontractor accepts all liability. Just another Government line of B.S.

  9. One thing that stands out immediately is that the city did not give thirty days notice or even provide the assessment. I suggest you contact a lawyer. The removal of this tree represents a significant financial loss for the property owner.

  10. OMG. What the heck!

    I am outraged. THIS is yet another reason we need less government control.

    Learning more about what the City of Brentwood has been doing to our beautiful little City is also pissing me off. I had no idea about the trees over at McGrath, the park, etc. Why does Brentwood suddenly have a war on trees? Did something happen in the past that cost the city a bunch of money and time? I just don’t get it.

    Let’s hope the City of Brentwood does the right thing here no matter what any regulation may state.
    If there is a great attorney reading this, call Mr. Gruder and help him make this right – please.

  11. “They took all the trees, and put ’em in a tree museum / And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em”

  12. Alarmed by recent city actions? The next board of aldermen meeting is Tuesday, January 3, at 7:00 PM, and residents may speak on topics that concern us at the start of the meeting. Each resident is allowed 3 minutes to speak. So let’s show up at City Hall and express our alarm. And remember that in 3 months we will have the opportunity to replace the mayor and 4 of the 8 aldermen.

    • Yep, it will be just like November 8th! Drain the swamp.

      Seems they don’t “get” that the residents and property owners are their boss and they work for US!

    • Who unfortunately will mount a sovereign immunity defense (which if fails because the are a city and not a county, will then blame Davey Tree, who will then claim that they were acting as an agent for the city, and thus entitled to assert immunity). While the immunity argument will likely fail, a St. Louis Circuit Judge isn’t going to rule against a muni, so that failure will not occur until at least the Eastern District Appellate Court, if not the Mo Supreme Court after one has expended tens of thousands in legal fees, at which point, MIRMA, or whomever Brentwood’s municipal insurer is will offer a settlement which barely covers previously incurred legal expenses.

      Tl;dr – St. Louis municipalities need to be consolidated, if not eliminated entirely. A good start would be a Mo Supreme Court Rule prohibiting any municipal assertion of immunity. Without immunity, munis will be much more contemplative of their actions, and those that aren’t, will quickly cease to exist

  13. I’d be very interested to know who selected that tree to be cut down AND what the city paid Davey Tree Services AND who profited from the sale of the valuable board feet of lumber. I suspect there was an EOY cash grab involved at the expense of all city residents and especially the home owner who was robbed blind.

  14. Very sad. I just don’t understand Brentwood’s thinking anymore about our trees in the community. Some many, many years old. This one of the reasons I picked Brentwood to move to.

  15. Just when we thought the City’s war on trees couldn’t get much worse, it got dramatically worse. It was bad enough when the City was cutting down its own healthy trees, but now it’s entering onto the private properties of residents to destroy our healthy trees without notice or cause. This is beyond belief. What the City did to Mr. Gruder’s oak tree was criminal. I hope he sues the City and wins a big award. Incidentally, the City transferred responsibility for trees this year from Public Works to Parks, so Parks would appear to be to blame for this debacle.

    • I am with you Brian, I think he needs to sue the city and Davey for destruction of property. Clearly the City of Brentwood did not own this tree and does not own Mr. Gruder’s property.

    • They eliminate the City Arborist then turn it over to the Parks Department, who in turns hires a For-Profit company to take down trees within the City. Is anyone over seeing the decisions to remove the trees or was Davey given a blank check and removal at their discretion?
      They got rid of their “qualified” specialist, for what? Better question, for who? That who is the responsible party here.
      I don’t think the City government actually cares about trees. Trees do not make them money, then again. For many years the City had a sweet gum removal policy, where a resident could ask the City to remove a healthy sweet gum for a small nominal fee. A large number had been removed, how much did the City earn off that?
      Instead of clearing trees, sounds like its time to clear the board and city government and plant some new roots that will sustain our community.

  16. Insult to injury would be: since the “nuisance” is, was on the property of the homeowner, hence his responsibility, that the city actually sends Mr. Gruder a grossly inflated bill for this travesty. Because is it not common practice for the city to be reimbursed for any nuisance, code violation actions that they perform? Grass cutting? Weed trimming? On the other hand, there are also laws covering logging. If the wrong tree is cut down or off the neighbors property that it is within the rights of the owner of that tree to receive damages up to and including what the fair market for the board/ft of fell tree and in some cases that amount multiplied. Each state is different. So, if any part of the tree was sold to a mill they are strictly regulated and have to be liscensed. I hope Mr. Gruder is awarded damages, at the very least all remnants of the skeletal remains of his tree are removed, including stump removal then in the appropriate season, a replacement, type, size and age to be selected by him and transplanted and cared for during the critical first year by a professional.

    • It doesn’t sound to me like this was a “nuisance”/ code violation issue. For it to be code or nuisance they must serve notice and more than once.

      • You assume Brentwood followed the proper procedures, however, the 4 million dollar settlement the City of Jennings just agreed to illustrates how municipalities in the area violate procedures and statutes with impunity on a regular basis.

  17. Did the decision makers miss biology all through school? Trees clean the air and help sustain life through photosynthesis.
    Why are the 100 yr trees behind the soccer field in Brentwood at the elementary school all marked?
    I’m a very concerned resident

      • Tricia is probably referring to the white “death crosses” spray-painted on the trunks of 10 beautiful cypress trees near the ball field at McGrath School. Doug Miner reported on this a few months ago. Brentwood’s school superintendent hatched a wacky plan to destroy one-third of McGrath’s 40 trees, a playground, and part of the ball field in order to construct a new roadway, parking lot, and student loading tarmac, to encourage parents to DRIVE their kids to/from school. A citizen rebellion led by Good Guys Ed Wright Jr., Cindy Manestar, Mark Wilson, Rich Emery, and others stopped the plan before the trees could be slaughtered.

  18. I agree with the owner, the city was way out of line here. The tree was clearly his property. I would be livid also. What a shame!

  19. An egregious violation. I hope you contact an attorney and see if there is a criminal or civil recourse against the City. While it’s at the expense of taxpayer dollars, they won’t learn until they feel the consequences of their actions.

  20. I would be upset too! I can’t believe that happened. I feel sorry that someone has to go through such a senseless loss of their personal property. This would be the same as if I planted a garden and came home to see that the city had taken all of my garden grown foods! You can’t go on someone’s property, much less damage it.

  21. Your message caused me to drive by your place to see the sad, albeit large, stump.
    What a travesty.

  22. I understand the issues at hand. But is anyone else disgusted once again by Doug Minor’s one sided and inflammatory reporting? Where is the City’s response? Do we actually have the facts or just the word of the homeowner? I am not saying he is lying, but we don’t have all facts. Our society is so fast to convict and point fingers they rush to judgement and most time are eating crow when the facts do come out.

    • We’ll have an opportunity to hear the city’s side when city hall opens Tuesday morning.

      • As a reporter, don’t you think getting both sides of a story would be good before reporting? But I guess you are trying hard to be a one sided liberal rag that gets clicks and doesn’t actually do real reporting.

        • Poor Truth. Such anger. Why do you read this? Go ferret out your own news, if you think this is poorly done.

        • What kinda disgusts me is that people hide their identity behind made up names, like Truth. In my opinion you have zero credibility if you can’t even disclose your true identity.

        • Odds are, as most munis do, the City “declined to comment due to the potential of pending litigation” and will discuss any documents which might be responsive to any potential Sunshine Request on the issue in closed session in order to thwart any dissemination of information pertaining to their actions via any means other than Court ordered Discovery.

  23. My wife thinks it will come back if left alone. I read something like 90% of Missouri oaks grew from root stock in the ground.

    Note to self: never use Davey Tree. (I think I may have a large tree of heaven dying in my back yard.)

    • The sad part about it Gary is that if it were to comeback, it would never have the large diameter branches that it once had.

    • Sure Martha…take a swipe at a guy who is rightfully upset over this horrific act on his private property. The City of Brentwood should be held accountable for destruction of the tree and for the other damage done to his property. And you don’t like the shade of green on the trim on his house. You are reprehensible attacking a fellow property owner while he rightfully hurting. Great neighbor you are! (Not)

    • you idiot. shut your ignorant attempt to input, down. THE HOMEOWNER IS COMPLETELY WITHIN HIS RIGHTS AS THE TREE WAS ON HIS PROPERTY. Someone needs to trace the hierarchy of “sign-off’s” on this fools decision to eliminate a healthy tree, on private property (PRIVATE) NOT THE CITY’S PROPERTY— in the absence of the permission or registered notification the property owner has been advised. WHO IS DOING THIS CRAP?

  24. I am so so sorry to hear this news because I am also a lover of trees in neighborhoods. With less and less nature around us, what little big trees we have in the sea of concrete and man made cityscapes should be protected without question. Nature’s value to humanity is priceless. It is not altogether surprising to me what city officials have done in regards to a big old tree. I have seen this type of thing done in Maplewood with no notice or regard for residents in surrounding areas: large black walnut trees cut down at Kellogg park taking away the last vestiges of shade for children playing besides an otherwise full sun playground; a large beautiful -to -see tree along Laclede station rd inconvenient to a new car dealership being built. I am so glad a letter was written. Large trees take decades to grow that big. They aren’t replaceable at least in most of our lifetimes. Let’s scrap some of these commercial blacktopped barren eyesores along our thouroughfares and plant trees. It’s all residents’ responsibilities to speak out like this man has done. Thank you Mr. Gruder on behalf of all the residents in the south 40 readership (although your tree had to be sacrificed!) You have every right to be angry and to demand some answers for this terrible mishap.