Man climbs tree in protest - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Tree protest: Day 3

Reported by Laura Sinacori - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - One Wilmington man is fighting to save trees on his property, and just as he was about to lose the battle his son joined in the effort.

Crews began clearing trees last week and showed up to the home of 87-year-old Charlie Joyce Wednesday to clear the way for a new airport landing system.

Thursday, the work didn't stop along the home on North Kerr Avenue, neither did the one-man protest by Joyce's son, 21-year-old Charlie Joyce Jr.  He is camping out in an Oak Tree that stands over 65 feet tall to take a stand for his father.

"They can have all the other trees but only if they could spare this tree," said Charlie.

Charlie's brother and sister climbed up for a few minutes Thursday to show their support.  Others who have heard about his effort stopped to chat or honked as they passed by.

"It kind of pushes me to keep going forward with this," said Charlie.  "It's nice to see there are people out there who support me."

Charlie's father said the trees on his property provided more than just shade.

"This tree represents blood, blood that I've provided to establish a family home," said Joyce.

Airport officials said they must clear all the trees above 25 feet in Joyce's yard. If the trees aren't cut down they won't be in compliance with the FAA and they could face stiff penalties.

Charlie said his dad was misled to sign a contract from ILM stating they would cut down his trees to clear the way for a landing system in exchange for $44,800.  

Airport officials, however, said they were crystal clear when explaining the agreement to residents.  They say they went over the contract with Joyce's attorney, and that Joyce deposited the money.

"This whole ordeal has pretty much driven me crazy and I'm angry," said Charlie.  "I'm infuriated because, you know, they took advantage of my father doing this, and you know, they weren't willing to compromise."

Airport officials said if they cut the tall Oak tree to the designated height, it would only leave a stump.  They say they don't want to get a court order, but if that's what it takes to bring Charlie down they will.

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