Costco vs. oak trees controversy in Pharr

Construction on the Rio Grande Valley's first Costco store is moving forward in Pharr but one environmental group is upset about the location that the retailer picked.

Land was being cleared Thursday at South Jackson Road and West Kelly Avenue in Pharr to make room for the parking lot of the new store.

The problem is, dozens of live oak trees got in the way.

Only a handful of them are still standing.

Others will be transplanted throughout the city.

Eduardo Martinez with the Pharr Garden Club told Action 4 News, it is too late now but city officials need to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"Our main concern was those oak trees, plus the trees that were in and around the property," said Martinez. "If something could have been planned earlier a little more smart planning, with consideration of the value of these trees and the flora that exists here, then I think we would have been pleased."

Martinez says the development went too fast.

"Considering transplanting 50 or 60, 40 year old trees, the survival rate is very slim," said Martinez.

The group is just hoping for the best with the transplants.

A representative for the retailer would not go into specifics but told Action 4 News, Costco is quote "definitely environmentally-friendly."

A spokesperson for the city says out of the 55 trees, 20 will be transplanted around town.

Costco will keep 12 of the trees and the rest are considered unhealthy.

The group was also told by a city spokesperson that Costco will plant 84 new trees on the property.