League City Trees

An excavator works near to a grove of oak trees on an undeveloped piece of land in League City on Friday, March 9, 2018. Area residents are unhappy that the trees will be removed to make way for a canal.


The recurring theme of development versus oak trees continues to vex some League City residents and officials.

Recently, Councilman Greg Gripon and many residents were calling for change in the city’s tree ordinance after the Clear Creek Independent School District got permission to cut down a 110-year-old oak tree at League City Elementary School to make way for a parking lot.

In another part of town, 18 mature oak trees must go to make room for a canal in a new waterfront subdivision, the developer said. That plan and other aspects of the development have renewed calls for a tightening of the city’s tree ordinance.

Joe Watson, who is developing Town Harbour Estates on Clear Lake near Lakeside Drive in eastern League City, said loss of the trees would be regrettable but necessary. Moving them was not an option, he said.

“It’s not economical,” Watson said Thursday during a parks board meeting.

The board approved the park plans for the subdivision in a 5-2 vote. President Vaness Hamilton and board member Joanna Dawson voted against it. The five who voted to approve the plan were Jay Williams, Chad Tressler, Sebastian Lofaro, Garet L. Nenninger and Sandra Kelly.

The park plan next goes to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then to the city council.

Town Harbour Estates, a planned unit development, is following the city’s tree ordinance and proposes planting enough trees to make up for the old oaks it will cut down, city staff said.

The plans call to cut down about 500 inches of trees. The number comes from adding the circumferences of the trunks of the targeted trees. In accordance with the city tree ordinance, the developer will plant 630 inches of new trees.

But the new trees will be small, some only 3 inches in circumference, while many of the trees being demolished are 21 inches to 26 inches in circumference. The largest oak tree is more than 30 inches in circumference, Watson said.

The larger, older trees are close to the shore and near an old, overgrown road marked on maps as Oak Road, board member Lofaro said.

But the trees have to go to make room for a 143-foot, man-made canal, Watson said.

Town Harbour Estates will be a gated community with 73 to 75 lots on 37 acres, said Mark Linenschmidt, a senior planner with the city.

A 37-acre subdivision would require about almost an acre in parkland, Linenschimdt said. Town Harbour Estates far exceeds that requirement by planning a total of 3.75 acres of park space for recreational use, he said.

But much of the space would be thin borders on the edges of the development, according to maps depicting the plans.

The Parks Board and city staff could rewrite parts of the master park plan to close the loophole of counting thin spaces in the future, city staff said.

It’s not the only loophole board members want to close.

“The loss of historic oak trees in League City has to come to an end,” park board member Sandra Kelly said.

There is very little reason to ever destroy a heritage or historic oak tree that is more than 100 years old, she said.

“We have to balance between development, progress and the preservation of our history and natural environment,” Kelly said. “League City is known to be the city of oak trees. It is our identity. It is important that we readdress the tree ordinance immediately to keep this travesty from happening again.”

Valerie Wells: 409-683-5246; valerie.wells@galvnews.com



(20) comments

Blanca Bell

Every week it seems like LC is taking down oak trees. Doesn't LC's logo have an oak tree on it? Maybe it should be changed to a picture of a prairie.

Carlos Ponce

Bianca, it was coastal prairie before. Inundated by saltwater every few years any trees were killed. Remember when Ike killed trees on Galveston? Those that were damaged were treated with gypsum and fresh water.

Stephanie Martin

Anything for a buck! This is getting out of hand! Sickening!

Robert Ray

[censored] While I do not live in League City, I am very environmentally and historically aware. And one thing I can tell you is that you cannot replace the value of an old oak with trees planted today! I can understand taking down trees that are sick or are of some danger to life or property. And I can understand the harvesting of certain trees, mostly faster growing pines, for construction and paper use. But cutting down old oak trees to put in some sort of canal for the purposes of offering "waterfront" property is a travesty. You cannot in 2 lifetimes, and probably as many as 4 or 5 generations, recover the shade, erosion prevention, oxygen generation, habitat and beauty that 18 healthy old oaks provide by planting any percentage increase of new trees. Now maybe, as a non-resident of the community, it is not my place to demand change to prevent this horrible event. But I am a resident of this county, a citizen of this great State and a participant in this planet! And while I don't really consider myself a "treehugger", I do value our trees. I am certain that there are better ways to build a housing development than ripping down good trees!

Michelle Aycoth


David Doe

It's never "economical" until the city tells the developer that he moves the trees or he can't build. Then it will be "Economical".

Josh Butler


Carlos Ponce

The oak trees are not native to this area. They were planted by families moving into the League City area.
"These trees are descendants of acorns brought from Calcasieu, Louisiana, by the ranching families that settled the community of Clear Creek in 1854. Following an Acadian tradition, they brought acorns with them to plant on their new home sites. At first the acorns were planted on their ranches. Then Butler brought live oak offspring into town from his ranch on Chigger Creek.
After the community became League City in the first decade of the 1900’s, Butler asked its namesake, J.C. League, to ship flat cars of live oak trees to landscape the streets in this infant town on the bald prairie. Because Mr. Butler and Mr. League wanted every yard to have a live oak, trees were given to homeowners who could not afford the $4 price tag."
The trees will be replaced according to the article. It will take a few years but remember the original oaks did not plant themselves. If you like the old majestic oaks, gather acorns, plant them, nurture them. The residents of League City in 2118 will then have "century old majestic oaks".
When my parents moved into their acreage in 1968 there were no trees. Zero, zip, nada. Among the trees planted later that century were oak trees. Now they are HUGE.

Chuck DiFalco

"Doesn't LC's logo have an oak tree on it? " Used to. Not anymore. It's got a sailboat now. So League City sold out by replacing a symbol of who we are with an advertisement to potential new residents.

Carlos Ponce

Explanation of the new logo at
"Has the city done away with the Oak?
No, the city seal is a circle with an oak tree. Neither the current or the former city logo replaced the city seal."
Logo - sailboat found at top of http://leaguecity.com/
Seal - oak tree found at bottom of http://leaguecity.com/

Carlos Ponce

By the way, the yearbook for League City High school in 1939 was called "The Great Oak".

Kevin Moran

Y'all sure it's "circumference" we're talking about here? Those trees look like they'd measure a lot more around.

Steve Fouga

I noticed the same thing. The oaks in the pic must not be the ones they're talking about. Or maybe they meant 30-inch diameter. An oak with a 30-inch circumference barely qualifies as medium-sized.

Stephanie Martin

These old oaks are priceless! Don't sell out to a developer who will will replace them with 3" trees!

Carlos Ponce

The W. H. P. A. (Women's Health Protective Association) of Galveston planted three inch oak trees along Broadway starting in 1901. Said one Broadway Oak Tree, "How do you like me now?" [wink]
"Every oak tree started out as a couple of nuts who stood their ground." Henry David Thoreau

Stephanie Martin

So we have to wait a lifetime or more for beautiful big oaks?

Carlos Ponce

The "beautiful big oaks" are still in League City, just a few less than before. They started out as small acorns, just like the ones that will replace them.

Michelle Aycoth

I moved here because of the Oak tress.
Less Oak trees equals less people who want to move here !

Michelle Aycoth

Give people tax breaks who plant an Oak tree,
Not the corporations.

Stephanie Martin

Just watch, the developers will win. It's hard to say no to all those tax dollars that the subdivision will bring in.

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