Vandals spray-painted graffiti on a vacant house and landscaping equipment at a construction site in Rolling Meadows where neighbors last weekend protested the razing of old trees to clear the way for new homes.
The graffiti includes statements such as "Save the trees" and "Rolling Meadows -- City of Trees" that reflect the sentiments of the protesters, but the site's nearest neighbors say they never meant to provoke such lawlessness.
Joanne Kroll said the graffiti on the lone brick house makes the property even more of an eyesore.
"We had no intention of causing a negative action of this kind," she said.
Fellow neighbor Stan Reynolds said enough damage had already been done to the property at 4500 Fairfax Ave. He and others only wanted to use it as an example to push Rolling Meadows officials to regulate the removal of trees by developers.
A representative of the landowner declined to comment Wednesday.
But Jesus Serrato of Construction Technology & Design Services, a Palatine company working on the development, was on the scene trying to clean up as much of the vandalism as possible. Some of the graffiti, including profanity, was on a tractor and Bobcat owned by a separate landscaping company, he said.
The graffiti first was reported by neighbors Wednesday morning and must have occurred sometime after nightfall Tuesday, Serrato said.
Despite neighbors' criticism, Serrato on Wednesday defended the tree removal, saying those that were felled were either dead, being eaten away from the inside or were exactly where the landowner is planning to build houses.
City officials say the landowner was within his rights to cut down the trees on his property, and that no trees on any other property were lost.
Second Ward Alderman Len Prejna, whose ward includes the property, said he's had many conversations about the situation during the past few days. He's inviting concerned residents to the next city council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
"We are a Tree City USA. We try very hard," Prejna said. "I really hope we see the room full of people who are concerned on Aug. 12. That would help move things more quickly."
Reynolds hopes for a city ordinance that wouldn't prevent a homeowner from making changes to his or her property, but would regulate developers who don't live on their property.
Rolling Meadows Public Works Director Fred Vogt said he couldn't comment on the likelihood or legality of such an ordinance. But he's already collecting information about what other communities do, based on neighbors' insistence that there are stronger regulations elsewhere.