Effort to save centuries-old red oaks in Westport puts developer, neighbors at odds

Neighbors in Westport are trying to save centuries-old red oaks that are slated to be cut down by a developer to make room for new construction on Prospect Road.
Katie Donovan says since developer Coastal Construction bought the lot next door, she's been trying to save the trees clustered near the property line.
"We've been in this house since 1974," says Donovan. "I moved in with my little kids who are now obviously grown."
Donovan says she brought cookies, cake and coffee to the workers Monday while they prepared to cut down the trees. She says the developer doesn't see things the way she and her neighbors do.
"We don't have any recourse really other than hoping we can persuade the builder not to take them down," says Donovan.
Unfortunately, the first trees came down around 11 a.m.
"Just that dead weight crashing to the ground, it's just heartbreaking," says Donovan.
Trees on private lots fall outside the local tree board's jurisdiction. Westport Tree Board Chair Monica Beusser says other towns nearby do have rules in place to restrict clear cutting.
"We basically just do property along the right of way in support of the tree warden," says Beusser.
Newtown is one area that is currently creating a tree protection ordinance.
Donovan says what her neighborhood lost today can't be replaced with fresh planting.