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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Florida the rules are different here Chapter LXVII

Go to work one day and come home and find out 150-year-old oak tree in your yard has been cut down. That is what happened to Maggi Hall. The City of Deland, which claims the tree was decaying, says it was both a decision made in the field and a misunderstanding that led to Hall not being notified. Don't you just love Florida?

Linked to- Bullwinkle Blog, Blue Star, Bright & Early,

DELAND -- Maggi Hall was stumped last week when she came home to find her sprawling live oak gone.

The 150-year-old tree at the edge of the Realtor's Amelia Avenue property was reduced from an almost 40-foot giant to a wooden stub, she said.

"I just fell apart," Hall said. "I was hysterical."

And a sniffling Hall wanted answers from the city.

"I do have a right to question what happens to my valuable best friend," she said.

In response, city officials and tree department workers gathered at the scene Thursday to explain why the boundary between private property and public right of way had been crossed.

"It was a decision made in the field," said Marvin Williams, DeLand's public works director.

After a portion of the sidewalk near the tree had been replaced, a maintenance crew cut some of the oak's limbs and found decay.

They called Clarence Goosby, tree department supervisor, who thought the tree outside Hall's fence stood on public land. He decided to remove the possible danger immediately.

"If the tree hadn't been a hazard, we would've left it there," he said. It was in "bad shape."

With a survey map of her property in hand, Hall was concerned she hadn't been contacted about tree removal on her land -- a mistake the city admits.

"It was a misunderstanding," Goosby said.

Hall is looking into the cost of replacing the tree and will present the city with several alternatives for compensation. She commended officials' response to her distress, saying "I'm not sure a lot of communities would have cared that much."

Williams said the department will now identify problem trees on public property, take pictures to document decay and contact the nearby property owner. They will be notified five days before a scheduled removal and get an opportunity to appeal unless a tree poses an immediate safety threat, he said.

Homeowners are responsible for trees on their property and are liable for any damage caused. They're required to hire an arborist to look at problem trees and a private contractor for removal.

The department cut 275 trees this year and replanted 203 within two weeks of giving them the ax, Williams said.

"We've been moving in the direction of more preservation," said Mariellen Calabro, city forester.

DeLand distributed 900 trees to residents in April at the city's annual tree giveaway. At its public works facility on South Garfield Avenue, the department houses a nursery for tree replacements. Developers of new subdivisions or commercial sites must plant trees on their sites.

The city also has been part of The National Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA program for 17 years, said Michael Pleus, assistant city manager. The program supports urban and community forestry.

"It's in our nature to be a Tree City because of our history," Pleus said. "We're definitely proud of our designation."

DeLand residents went on a planting frenzy in 1886 to take 50 cents off taxes for each oak planted on city right of way. The break was repealed one year later after overwhelming response.

Hall pledged to join the city's six-seat tree advisory committee, which spearheads efforts to maintain compliance with the Tree City USA program.

"I just want something positive to come from this sad situation," she said.

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