Council and committee aim to protect trees | News, Sports, Jobs – FORT MYERS

The Fort Myers Beach City Council, with guidance from the Marine Resources Task Force, is seeking to help preserve more trees from development.

The City of Fort Myers Beach Marine Resources Task Force is proposing that the city make changes to the city’s tree protection code in light of clearcutting in the city.

City manager Roger Hernstadt said there were concerns for the “the clearing of valuable trees from properties as part of the general problem of people trying to maximize what they can build on their land and not having a mechanism to replace that canopy.”

The task force recommended that city council remove language allowing single-family homeowners to remove up to three trees per year without a required permit. It also requires inspections before the permit is issued. It also requires that the following conditions be added to permits: 1) remove alien species, 2) replace protected trees that must be removed for the beneficial use of the property, 3) create a tree fund to which property owners can contribute if replacement is not a viable option due to spacing constraints.

“For me, it came to a head with the clear-cutting on the island,” said Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros.

Hernstadt said he wants to require an inspection by city staff before any tree cutting is done. The current city ordinance requires a permit for the removal of protected tree species, but exemptions allow up to three protected trees to be removed per year. State law allows tree removal without city permission with a supporting appraisal from a qualified professional, according to city staff. The overall plan for the city calls for shade trees along the streets and alleys.

There are few tree scenes like this left on Fort Myers Beach off Bay Beach Lane. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

According to a summary of the city’s proposed policy, the overall plan gives a strong preference to native trees such as live oak, okra limbo, sea grape, cabbage palm, mastic, Jamaican dogwood, l mahogany, black olive, strangler fig, pigeon plum and buttonhole; and vii. a ban on the use of invasive trees such as Australian pine, Brazilian pepper, melaleuca and Java plum.

“For quality of life, trees can mitigate heat island effects. Heat islands can cause daytime temperatures in urban areas about 1–7°F higher than temperatures in outlying areas, and nighttime temperatures about 2–5°F higher. Causes of heat island effects include the reduction of natural landscapes, the absorption and release of heat by structures and impermeable surfaces, and the reduction in wind flow caused by tall structures,” indicates the summary.

Proposed changes to the city’s tree code require replacement trees permitted to be removed “with protected tree species of the same size, of compatible species and of the same number. If the size of the replacement trees and/or the size of the property is prohibitive for replacement trees, then the mitigation value of the trees removed will be paid into the City’s Tree Fund. Where mitigation is required, an appraisal prepared by a qualified tree professional using the appropriate appraisal method found to determine the mitigation value of roadside vegetation. »

Penalties, fines and tree replacement payments will be deposited in the tree fund. The public can donate money to the city’s tree fund to help the city with its beautification efforts.

The new bylaws are expected to be reviewed in more detail at the next city council meeting.

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