A historic tree spared last year in a 3-2 vote has been mauled and hacked and will likely die at a 7-Eleven job site in The Villages.
Last year, 7-Eleven wanted to cut down the old oak tree to make way for a new gas station, convenience store and car wash that will be built at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and Griffin Avenue on the Historic Side of The Villages. The new 7-Eleven will be constructed at the former site of the BP station and Kangaroo convenience store, which were demolished this week. Apparently, the tree was severely damaged during the demolition.
In June, the Lady Lake Commission voted 3-2 to save the historic tree. The plan for the car wash was retrofitted to accommodate the tree.
Lady Lake’s Growth Management Director Thad Carroll said the tree “was severely hat racked” during the demolition process this week.
He said the town is opening a code enforcement case for the violation.
“We will direct them to obtain an arborist report to demonstrate (or render an opinion) as to whether the tree is still viable. If the report indicates that it is not, there will be a fine imposed, and the tree will be removed within 30 days,” Carroll said.
However, hope remains that the tree can survive.
“If the report indicates that the tree can recover, and yet we do not see a recovery or evidence of new/active growth after a period of months, we will also impose a fine given that it did not recover in accordance with the opinion of the arborist,” Carroll added.
The Town of Lady Lake has long been proud of its Tree City USA designation. Each year it gives away trees, encouraging residents to plant them for future years.
In recent years, 7-Eleven has been gobbling up real estate for new gas stations in and around The Villages. Most recently, 7-Eleven unveiled plans for a new gas station and convenience store at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 at Eagles Nest Road in Fruitland Park.