TREES — An eclectic group plants the first of several trees in DeBary in Rob Sullivan Park in December. The arboriculture comes courtesy of a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service matched by the city. In all, 30 new trees — live oak, Southern magnolia and crape myrtle — will be planted. From left are Greg Dunn, senior forester of the Florida Forest Service; Wendy Anderson, chair of the Volusia Soil and Water Conservation District; DeBary City Council Member Patricia Stevenson; Deltona City Commissioner Victor Ramos; DeBary Vice Mayor Phyllis Butlien; former DeBary City Council Member Rob Sullivan; Justin Krause, an aide to U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz; state Sen. Tom Wright; DeBary Mayor Karen Chasez; Volusia County Council Member Barb Girtman; and state Sen. Jason Brodeur. PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF DEBARY

City should act to change it

BY GENE RODDENBERRY

You may have noticed subdivisions popping up around the city that have not a single tree left standing and where the rolling hills have been bulldozed into a flat lunar landscape. Wonder why?

Look no further than the City of DeLand’s Tree Protection Ordinance, which might better be termed a tree-destruction ordinance. Specifically, that ordinance is found in Section 33 – 57 of the Municipal Code.

Section 33 – 57.06 (a) b.(3) is the source of the problem. That subsection provides that if you have a plot of land that you propose to subdivide and that plot of land has no baldcypress, red cedar or live oak trees in excess of 20 inches in diameter, and you propose to build lots of 7,500 square feet or less, then you are permitted to remove every living tree and shrub located thereon.

Having no trees to contend with reduces the cost of development to the developer. Once there are no trees left standing, there is no impediment to flattening the rolling hills, thereby further reducing the cost of development to the developer. This provision actively encourages the development of small, featureless, treeless lots on which cookie-cutter houses of similar footprint can be built with a minimum of cost to the developer.

But we need low-cost housing, right? One recent development of this type advertises its houses as starting in the $300,000s. Does that sound like it’s low-cost to you? The only low costs are those of the developer.

It is interesting to compare DeLand’s tree ordinance with the comprehensive and well-composed ordinances of the cities of Gainesville and Vero Beach, which have undergone extensive and rapid development. The DeLand tree ordinance protects 17 species of trees. Gainesville and Vero Beach each protect more than 100 species of trees. Further, they protect more of them by not requiring the substantial girth required by the City of DeLand. Finally, Gainesville and Vero Beach have no provision even remotely similar to Section 33 – 57.06(a)b.(3).

The DeLand City Commission needs to immediately suspend or revoke Section 33 – 57.06(a)b.(3) and further direct the planning staff to rewrite Section 57 so that it actually protects our residents and diminishing urban forests rather than a handful of developers.

Perhaps the City Commission was unaware of the provisions contained in our so-called tree-protection ordinance. Assuming they have read this article, they are now aware.

They need to act.

— Roddenberry (a very distant relative of the Star Trek creator) is a retired mediator who graduated from both the University of Florida and the University of Miami. He had the misfortune to witness the destruction of the Treasure Coast by rampant overdevelopment and thoughtless planning. He now lives in DeLand.

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