Work crew on Maui
cuts down wrong trees

KIHEI, Hawaii » A Maui County official has apologized after county workers accidentally cut down a Kihei homeowner's plumeria trees.

A county crew responding to what the workers believed was a neighborhood tree causing a problem mistakenly cut down Misha Sofianos' 20-foot Savannah plumeria trees from her yard Wednesday.

The problem tree that the workers wanted to cut down had already been removed by a private contractor.

"It's unfortunate. We definitely want to apologize," Public Works Director Gil Coloma-Agaran said.

Sofianos said her two plumeria trees were planted more than 20 years ago when she first moved into the Welakahao Street home.

"They were beautiful, white-yellow Savannah plumeria," she said. "I had someone come to spray them regularly and prune them. They were big, healthy trees and made a beautiful shade in my yard."

"In the evening and every morning, the smell would come in through my bedroom window," she said. "This is what Hawaii is all about, the smell of the flowers."

The mix-up began when Sofianos called the county more than three weeks ago to complain about a nearby kiawe tree that housed a nest of bees. After the county told Sofianos it would not remove the kiawe tree, she hired a contractor to take it down and remove the bees.

But a county crew arrived at her yard with instructions to take down a tree "next to a telephone pole," and only found Sofianos' two plumerias. The workers apparently believed they were responding to a homeowner's request to remove a problem tree.

Coloma-Agaran said the crew might have been confused, since the plumeria trees were outside a fence along Sofianos' back yard.

"It's one of those things," he said.

"I hope this doesn't turn into something where the crews don't want to go out when a resident asks for the county to act," he said.

Sofianos said the county promised it would replace her trees, but not with mature ones.


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