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The Villages
Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Bill on governor’s desk would remove local control over tree removal

A bill on the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis would remove local control over tree removal and would signal a major change in The Villages.

Currently, a homeowner in The Villages must apply to the Architectural Review Committee to request the removal of a tree, that is more than four inches in circumference. That rule does not apply to a palm tree, which is technically considered a grass. The ARC, which considers an arborist’s report for each tree removal, typically requires removal of the stump and in many cases requires a replacement tree be planted.

The Town of Lady Lake, long proud of its Tree City USA designation, requires a permit for tree removal, even palm trees.

The bill on the governor’s desk would change all of that.

The legislation would take local control away from local government.

“They can take the chainsaw and have at it,“ said Community Development District 5 Supervisor Jerry Knoll.

Here is some of the language of the bill:

A local government may not require a notice, application, approval, permit, fee, or mitigation for the pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property if the property owner obtains documentation from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect that the tree presents a danger to persons or property.

A local government may not require a property owner to replant a tree that was pruned, trimmed or removed in accordance with this section.

Earlier this month, a Villager was seriously injured when her golf cart hit a rope stretched across a roadway. The rope was being used in a tree removal, in which the neither the tree removal company nor the homeowner had obtained the proper permit from the Town of Lady Lake prior to the beginning of the work.

Lady Lake Code Enforcement Officer Michelle Bilbrey examines the tree in the wake of an accident that left a Villager seriously injured after her golf cart hit a rope stretched across a roadway.

In 2016, most of the Historic Side of The Villages lost power when a tree removal company toppled a tree onto power lines near the Jeffrey Gate. The company had not obtained the proper permit.

Duke Energy personnel attempt to make repairs in 2016 after a palm tree came down near the Jeffrey Gate.

The governor recently vetoed a bill that would have overruled local control when it comes to banning plastic straws.

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