The community of Water Oak on Thursday served as the backdrop for a riding tour for Lady Lake officials to clarify the measuring and marking of historic trees. The entourage included the commissioners, Town Manager Kris Kollgaard and Mayor Ruth Kussard. The tour highlighted some of the items being discussed as part of the new proposal for tree removal both for commercial and homeowners in the Town of Lady Lake.
Under the tutelage of Growth Management Director Thad Carroll periodic stops were made to demonstrate the measuring of trees for historic status. To properly determine if a tree is historic the measurement starts four feet from the ground, and measures the circumference. A minimum of 113 inches circumference and 36 inches in diameter is required for a tree to be considered historic. Also pointed out were the current markings for trees to be removed. A red ribbon denotes designation for removal. This will change as part of the new proposal.
At the conclusion of the tour, officials met at Lady Lake Town Hall for a workshop meeting. Many items were discussed regarding the new proposal. It was agreed to change the marking system. Trees designated as historic will be banded with red ribbon; trees designated for removal will be marked with a painted X, to be visible from the street.
Other items discussed and included in the proposal are a voluntary registration service for all companies in the tree removal business and expanded prices for permits required for home owners to take down most trees. Currently the permit is $25 for any size tree. The proposal raises prices incrementally according to the size of the tree with the top price of $100 being required to remove a historic tree. In addition, homeowners would be required to plant three trees for every historic tree removed or pay $150 per tree in lieu of planting.
There will be a fine for a first offense and that fine will be tripled for a second offense.
The code enforcement officer currently patrols during the week. Soon his schedule will include weekend hours.
The proposal includes plans for raising awareness to homeowners of the permit system.
Separate from the proposal but in the works is a plan to give away free trees, possibling in conjunction with Arbor Day.
The proposal will be fine-tuned and presented at one of the November meetings for final discussion and vote. The Lady Lake Town Commission meets the first and third Mondays of the month.