Legal: “Trees for the planting, thanks to tree mitigation fund”

Legal: “Trees for the planting, thanks to tree mitigation fund”

Photo: Resident Community News

“If you’ve always wanted or needed to plant a tree in the right-of-way in front of your property, now you can, thanks to the City of Jacksonville’s tree settlement with a variety of civic groups in July 2017.

The suit filed in 2015 by the Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida challenged the city’s use of the Tree Mitigation Trust Fund established in 2000 by charter amendment. Developers pay into the fund when they cut down trees and the money is supposed to be used to mitigate the loss by paying for new trees to be planted elsewhere in Duval County.

Although the $20 million settlement provides funds for trees to be replaced or added to public property, including that strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk in front of your home, each request for a tree requires that a bill be filed for approval by the Jacksonville City Council…”

— Kate A. Hallock,Resident Community News

Read details on how to apply here

“FPL looks to cities, counties to regulate tree trimming for next storm season”

“FPL looks to cities, counties to regulate tree trimming for next storm season”

Photo: Sun Sentinel

“Toppled trees left many South Florida residents in the dark after Hurricane Irma…

Ninety percent of FPL’s customers, or 13 million people, lost power as a result of Irma.

One of those people without power for 10 days was Broward County Commissioner (and former Broward Mayor) Barbara Sharief, and she’s determined that’s not going to happen again — at least not because of overgrown trees.

Sharief is proposing an ordinance that would fine property owners who violate FPL’s ‘Right Tree, Right Place’ program.

Expected to be on the Broward commission’s agenda in April or early May, the ordinance would fine owners $500 if they fail to relocate, replace or remove trees that don’t meet the ‘Right Tree’ code, and $500 if a property owner fails to properly prune an existing tree that may violate the code, or fails to notify FPL of a tree that can’t be brought to code..

Parkland adopted a similar ordinance after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma…

 In a letter by FPL attorney Kenneth Rubin to the Public Service Commission, FPL estimated it would cost $8 million to $9 million more to trim half the territory every two years, instead of a third every three years, which is currently the practice.

‘Legislation, particularly at the local level (e.g., municipal and county ordinances), could be enacted that restricts the type and location of vegetation that can be planted in the vicinity of power lines. Legislation could also provide electric utilities additional rights to address existing vegetation conditions on customers’ property that impede operation or maintenance of utility facilities,’ wrote Rubin in his response to state regulators’ questions regarding recent hurricane damage.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams said he would like to see the county and FPL work together on the issue.

‘We’re a heavily landscaped county. There are some old neighborhoods where the trees have been existing for ages,’ he said.

Norm Easey, CEO of the Florida Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture in Sarasota, said FPL does a good job of vegetation management in the state, but ‘we don’t help ourselves. There are many communities that are OK with planting huge trees underneath power lines.’

Still, the overgrowth is not completely the fault of cities or homeowners, Easey said, adding that FPL has been known to put in a power line ‘where maybe they shouldn’t. If you don’t have your ducks in a row, don’t put in the power line.’

…FPL and other electric utility customers can provide feedback online at Floridapsc.com. To leave a comment, click on ‘Consumer Comments on Hurricane Preparedness and Restoration’ in red letters…”

— Marcia Heroux Pounds,Sun Sentinel

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Legal: In Kenya, county “pulls down billboards of firms that illegally fell or poison trees”

Legal: In Kenya, county “pulls down billboards of firms that illegally fell or poison trees”

Photo: Collins Langat, The Star, Kenya
“The county says it will pull down billboards owned by at least five advertising firms, which it says are notorious for illegally felling trees on major roads. It plans to start this week.

Some trees even have been poisoned by toxic chemicals poured on the soil, county officials said…

The county said it will start pulling down all board standing near felled trees to ‘discipline’ companies for the illegal act.

‘This can start anytime. We cannot tolerate this,’ Agriculture executive Danvas Makori said.

‘We are going to arrest anybody cutting down trees for billboards and bring down those billboards. We’re not going to permit billboards if it means a tree or even a branch has to be cut off to put up a billboard,” he said…

‘They are now pouring chemicals under trees and after a short time, trees start withering and die. This is a new trick’ he said.

Agriculture committee chairman John Mwangi called the tree felling regrettable and said he would demand a comprehensive report.

He said the Finance sector is auditing to establish the number of billboards that are not permitted and for which companies have not paid taxes.

Ex-Governor Evans Kidero issued a similar caution following rampant felling of trees. He ordered the removal of billboards interfering with trees.’

— Julius Otieno,The Star, Kenya

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State Control of Tree Cutting? “Clearing trees from I-95 in Georgia will make roads safer, DOT says”

State Control of Tree Cutting? “Clearing trees from I-95 in Georgia will make roads safer, DOT says”

Photo: The Florida Times Union

“The drive along Interstate 95 in Georgia gets uglier by the day as trees are taken down, but state transportation officials say the clear cutting will improve safety.

The ‘vegetative management projects’ along I-95 are aimed at reducing the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries along the interstate corridors in the state’s coastal region, said Jill Nagel, spokeswoman for the DOT’s District 5 office in Jesup…

The projects consist of removing all the vegetation inside the right-of-way and anything that’s hanging over the fence. All the cut trees and brush is then mulched flush with the ground, Nagel said.

Actually, not all of it. One of the contract companies loaded a couple of trailers with saw timber pine logs Tuesday at the Woodbine exit.

No grubbing will be permitted so the soil surface won’t be disturbed to remove stumps or roots.


Photo: The Florida Times Union

The clearing of trees will benefit billboard companies who will no longer need to get permits to cut trees to ensure their signs can be seen.

Starting in 1963, the Garden Club of Georgia had lobbied for control of signs on Georgia roadways and was successful in getting hundreds removed. More than 15 years ago, the Georgia legislature adopted a statute to allow the clearing of trees from in front of billboards. The Garden Club sued saying the law violated the gratuities clause of the Georgia constitution but the courts ruled that billboards also benefited Georgians…

The DOT is monitoring the projects to ensure the work results in visual quality.”

— Terry Dickson, The Florida Times Union

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Legal: “Jax City Council defends tree canopy against ‘sledgehammer’ government in Tallahassee”

Legal: “Jax City Council defends tree canopy against ‘sledgehammer’ government in Tallahassee”

Photo: Steve Bisson
“The Jacksonville City Council approved legislation this week that opposes a state bill (HB 521/SB 574) that would cut the heart out of the city’s tree canopy protections.

The state bill, filed by Republican Greg Steube in the Senate and Democrat Katie Edwards in the House, would prohibit cities such as Jacksonville from stopping landowners from removing trees located on their own private property.

The Jacksonville City Council bill (2017-822) contends that the legislation is ‘harmful to the environment and contrary to the overwhelming wishes of Jacksonville citizens,’ and the bills are an ‘ ‘assault on home rule.’

The city passed a referendum in 2000 to protect the city’s tree canopy, with an overwhelming majority (76 percent) voting for the measure.

‘The bill does what Tallahassee does best; preempt local government,” per John Crescimbeni, who introduced the Council bill, a salvo against Tallahassee’s ‘sledgehammer government.’

“I don’t know what happens to them when they get into the hall of government over there,” Crescimbeni said, “but they forget where they came from.”

The bill was moved as an emergency with multiple sponsors. The entire Council agreed to sponsor the bill, which passed unanimously.’ Here is a copy of the resolution.

–A.G. Gancarski, The Florida Times-Union

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