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Neighbors upset over trees removed from health care site

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- Members of a central Sioux Falls neighborhood are upset after more than a dozen trees were removed as part of an expansion of a senior living and health care facility.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - Members of a central Sioux Falls neighborhood are upset after more than a dozen trees were removed as part of an expansion of a senior living and health care facility.

Touchmark at All Saints broke ground Monday on a 109,000-square-foot addition to its facility at 18th Street and Dakota Avenue, the Argus Leader reported. The All Saints Neighborhood Association came out against the project last spring, in part because it involves removing several mature trees.

Brenda Stough, who has lived across the street from Touchmark for 32 years, said she and others thought more trees would be spared.

"It makes me kind of sick every time I look over there," Stough said.

Officials with Touchmark and the city said work is going according to plan. Touchmark had promised to preserve as many trees as possible and replace any removed trees with saplings.

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Mike Cooper, the city's planning director, said that between the neighborhood meetings and the time that plans were brought to the city's planning board, engineers determined the trees along 18th Street couldn't be saved. He said as construction crews disturb the root structure, it's not feasible to ensure that they can save the existing trees.

Rick Wessell, senior vice president and director of construction for Touchmark, said by the time construction is finished in the next 14 to 18 months, there will be more trees on the Touchmark campus than before.

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