Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Conroe City Council in Texas is dealing with problems with its newly finished $107 million Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Centre after it was revealed that the city violated its own tree code during the project’s development. The rule requires new trees to have a minimum diameter of 3 inches, however the trees planted on the property had a diameter of just 2 inches.
The council originally refused to pay the developer, Garfield Public Private, $600,000, but has now agreed to pay the bill, postponing $100,000 until the tree issue is rectified. Smaller trees were chosen to save money, as the project’s budget had already risen from $92 million to $107 million.
Mark Bullard, Garfield Public Private’s hospitality leader, confirmed the code violation and noted that the reduction in tree size was not mentioned during the value engineering process. Some trees on the land fulfil the ordinance’s criteria, with a diameter of two and a half inches, and it would be impractical to replace them with three-inch trees.
Although the trees were smaller than allowed, Garfield’s Design and Construction head, Steve Galbreath, stated that the construction satisfied the ordinance’s 30 percent tree canopy standard by planting 101 additional trees on the land. To save money and save some heritage trees for the project, the business planned to rescue existing dead trees. Except for one dead tree, all but one have been removed, and 27 huge trees have been rescued.
A citizen brought the tree issue to the council’s attention after noticing dead and dying trees on the property and pointing out the city’s tree law violation. Despite the hotel and conference center’s financial issues and poor occupancy rates, the council stated a commitment to finding a solution and supporting the project moving ahead.