SRP and citizens happy with palm tree move

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PHOENIX -- You can't go anywhere in the Valley without seeing a palm tree, but typically, they're not flying through the air!  That was the scene in one east Phoenix neighborhood Tuesday.  It was the culmination of a long fight over what to do about a rare palm grove that, with every passing day, may have been putting homeowners at greater risk.   

“Never seen anything like it myself,” said Gordon Lind with SRP.

Moving three palm trees is slow work if you want them to survive.  Tuesday’s operation involved several crews, a massive crane and lots of dirt.

“It's extremely unique,” said Paul Lazarus of his neighborhood off of 44th Street, south of Camelback.  “I think 150 or more trees that are in the neighborhood.”

Phoenix's Mountgrove neighborhood is unique because it was built in the shadows of Black Sphinx Palms, remnants of a grove planted in the first half of the last century. Paul Lazarus said each year, the dates are still harvested from the rare trees.

“It was a very emotional issue,” Lazarus said.  “People really wanted to keep this the date grove it has been for years and years.”

Last year, SRP went to neighbors and said some of the trees were too close to the power lines and they had to go.

“We have 69 [thousand volt] lines back by the canal and it just wasn't feasible to prune them because the fronds grow so quickly they would have to be pruned twice a year,” Lind said.

SRP needed the trees out of the way and neighbors didn't want to lose them.  They arrived at a compromise in December.

“One of the trees is going to stay in the back of the yard and two of the trees will be lifted over the house and put in the front of the yard,” explained Lazarus of Tuesday’s activity.

This is a first for SRP, relocating trees instead of just cutting them down. Thirteen will be saved.  The company will compensate home owners for 14 others they have to cut. 

Barring a smashed house, everyone gets what they want.

SRP covered the bill.