Jackson County

Tree-cutting crews stopped in OS less than 12 hours after city OKs Live oaks removal

With removal crews in place Wednesday morning, the demolition of three Live oaks on a Front Beach property was suddenly halted.

A stop-work order was filed by the City of Ocean Springs after crews were ready to cut down the trees as early as 7:30 a.m. Workers told the Sun Herald that they had received the permit to work that morning, but were quickly stopped and left around 9:30 a.m. to move on to other jobs.

The Sun Herald was there Wednesday morning when tree-removal crews covered the property. They were accompanied by neighbors, representatives from the city and police who said they were “there to maintain the peace.”

Jaklyn Wrigley, a local lawyer who lives across the street and has been fighting the trees’ removal, told the Sun Herald she got a phone call about the crews early Wednesday morning.

“Fortunately, the City quickly put a ‘stop work’ order in place, and the crews ceased their efforts to remove the trees,” she said. “They were not successful in removing the trees this morning.”

Wrigley said a new injunction is being finalized and will be filed later today. The first injunction was filed in Jackson Circuit Court October 28 against the original property owners Julius and John Frank Bosco, but they learned after Tuesday’s meeting that ownership has now transferred to Debra Littlepage.

“That there was already an injunction in place ahead of the meetings, but it was filed against the wrong person,” Wrigley said.

“This injunction will protect the trees while we finalize the bill of exception, which will appeal the Board of Aldermen’s decision.”

The property owner was given approval to cut down the trees in a contentious, four-hour Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday night. The board voted 5-2 to deny the appeal of the Tree Commission’s June decision that approved the removal of the trees.

Littlepage has been trying since February to get approval to build a home on the property. She’s given plans that include a large house with porches that would require multiple Live oaks to come down.

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph has been leading the charge to save the trees. He owns a home adjacent to the property and spent three-and-a-half hours Tuesday night bring up witnesses, including community members, arborists, architects and others to testify to multiple reasons to save the Live Oaks.

Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald

Alyssa Newton is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a background in television, radio and print. She’s originally from Dothan, Alabama and has a journalism degree from the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Her passion lies in storytelling, news, sports and a strong espresso.