Efforts to save 300 year-old oak trees in proposed Geneva warehouse development move forward

Online petition with more than 1,000 signatures, savegenevaoaks.com urges continuing support

Geneva Township resident Brian Maher stands next to a burr oak he says is at least 300 years old. That tree and others are part of a 211-acre parcel proposed to be annexed and rezoned in Geneva.

GENEVA – A local effort to prevent the razing of about 75 burr oak trees – some of them 300 years old – in a proposed warehouse development has expanded to a website and an online petition that now has more than 1,000 signers.

Midwest Industrial Funds of Oak Brook seeks to annex and rezone 211 acres at the intersection of Route 38 and Kautz Road south to Fabyan Parkway. The proposal has eight buildings, one of them a warehouse, that would require the trees to be cut down.

Geneva Township resident Brian Maher, who first spoke out against removing the trees in April, now has a webpage, savegenevaoaks.com, and a Change.org petition with 1,038 signatures as of Aug. 30.

“Three weeks ago, we had over 3,000 people go to our website,” Maher said. “Now the petition was added. We don’t know if it will mean anything to the city, state or Midwest Industrial Funds, frankly. … We have not had any traction from the company. Absolutely nothing. They have not responded to emails nor phone calls.”

MIF founding principals Justin Vierz and Michael Androwich did not respond to voicemails or an email Aug. 30.

“Whether it does anything, I don’t know,” Maher said of the website and petition.

“I am faced with the facts and realization, having started this at the city level, taken it to the county level, talked with state representatives and more alphabet acronym government agencies that you can shake a stick at,” he said. “Not one chooses to or can be helpful in the least. None of them.”

Kane County does not have a tree preservation ordinance.

Although the city of Geneva has a tree preservation ordinance, the MIF property is not yet part of the city. It is proposed for annexation.

Rachael Kay Albers, a Geneva resident who spoke out about saving the oaks, started the Change.org petition.

“We are a group of Geneva, Illinois, and Kane County residents who are deeply concerned about the proposed project by Midwest Industrial Funds to construct warehouses that would result in the destruction of our beloved oak trees in Geneva Township,” Albers said on the petition. “These majestic oaks, some of which have stood for over 300 years, hold immense ecological and historic significance for our community. Moreover, these oak trees offer much-needed green space in Kane County. They provide a sanctuary for wildlife, including numerous bird species that rely on them for nesting habitats. And oak acorns provide food for 100+ vertebrate species of wildlife.”