PORTLAND, Ore. — Neighbors in North Portland continue fight to protect Heritage Tree.

The massive white oak tree sits atop Overlook Bluff in North Portland. Neighbors in the area consider it an icon.

About a year and a half ago, Portland developer Brandon Brown bought the plot of land on which the tree sits with plans to build six homes on the site.

But he also pledged to protect the iconic tree.

Brown said he followed city guidelines in his planning. A city planner even recommended Brown's plan.

But neighbors argued, under the plan, the homes would be built too close to the tree and would damage its roots, causing the tree to eventually die.

"Oregon white oak roots are very shallow which means they're very sensitive to any digging construction," said Friends of Overlook Bluff chair Chrystal Smith.

The neighbors fought the development. The plan went to a public hearing, and ultimately a city land use officer denied Brown's application.

Brown said he was surprised by the decision, and will be submitting the city new plan.