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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Tree, landscape ordinance work session tonight

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee will be holding a work session at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, to discuss potential changes to the city's landscape ordinance and tree removal permitting process.

The committee's goal is to recommend changes that would clarify inconsistencies in the existing landscape ordinance and propose stricter guidelines on how much landscaping and what types of landscaping are permitted for homeowners.

The committee also intends to discuss the city's current policies regarding the removal of mature trees.

Recently two Island residents took issue with property owners on 74th Street who removed mature Australian pines and asked the committee what could be done to prevent future removal of mature trees.

Superintendent of Public Works Joe Duennes explained that the state trend is to one day not have any Australian pines here, so if one is cut down, they "won't gripe a bit. But the city is not going to go out and cut them down."

Duennes said he has experienced problems with the Australian pines' shallow root system and 75 percent of the time he deals with a downed tree or limbs it's an Australian pine.

Holmes Beach resident John Molyneux said he understood Australian pines are not well rooted, but his concern is the city's lack of an ordinance that protects mature trees.

"My concern was the destruction of mature trees. Many towns and counties have a tree ordinance. It seems an appropriate thing to work on," Molyneux said. "If you can't support Australian pines, you can support mitigation. I encourage this committee to work on a tree ordinance."

As one who issues permits, Duennes said the current process doesn't give parameters for what credentials are needed to receive a tree removal permit. Duennes said he liked the idea of including mitigation for the removal of mature exotics and replacing them based on certain standards.

The character of the city is lost when you lose large trees, Duennes said. "I don't think anyone wants to see a nice tree come down. Hardwoods in place of Australian pines would be ideal."