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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trees need to be clearly marked for removal

Thanks Tom, for posting about the trees that were cut down at Carrollton.

 Treewatch had many calls and emails as well, this weekend, when the cutting was taking place. We went out to take a look and ran into a neighbor from the South Grove who was there taking pictures. They did have a proper permit for the removals, issued on August 11. The permit was issued at the completion period of the posting of the  Intended Decision Notice by Code Enforcement, which, as a requisite for tree removals, needs to be visible on the premises for 10 days. This document was posted on the wrought-iron gate right next to the coral building at the southern end of the front of the property. 

Carrollton did what was required from them by the City.

Trees before they were chopped down.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that it was nowhere near the trees, and the ink was washed out by all the rain,  passersby would not be able to readily see the Notice of Intention, nor read the instructions provided within it, about the 10-day window of time given to appeal the decision by the City to issue permit to allow the tree removals.  All the City requires is that the Notice of Intention be posted "in front of the property or adjacent to it."

Frankly that is not good enough. Over the years since TreeWatch was founded, we have been alerted to far too many tree removals underway, even on the public right of way, because the Intended Notice was posted obscurely and the opportunity to appeal was missed. 

Washed-out notice.
The City must amend this procedure in order to at least give the trees a fighting chance. It is simply a matter of making the notices include in the headline,  "TREE REMOVAL" as big as the letters that say "POSTED"; (if you notice the picture of the rain washed notice, the big letters dod not get washed away). The sign should be laminated or placed in a plastic sleeve to protect it from the elements. The sign must be directly in front of the property (not adjacent), or in the case of public right of way, on the actual tree. If there is more than one tree, and they are readily visible to passersby, copies of the notice should be posted on each tree.
What a difference it would have made if all the trees that were removed Saturday along Carrolton's wall could have each had a sign posted on them during that 10 day period prior to the permit issue.  There would have been an opportunity to appeal.

It is the lush canopy that makes Main Highway a scenic signature of Coconut Grove.  It is hard to imagine how these trees, hugging the coral rock wall along front of the property on Main Highway, could possibly be in the way of a building plan so as to require their removal.  The City's Building and Planning department signed off on those plans, and we can't help but wonder if there is not more that can be done during the plan-approval process to encourage creating plans around existing trees. 

We recall a few years ago, when the Historic Preservation Board heard the appeal to try to save massive oaks on the grounds of the church in little Haiti, which were being cut down to make way for a larger building.  Several HPB board members at the time, who are building professionals, pointed out how the plans could have been revised to save the trees.  But at that stage it was too late, the work had come too far along and therefore the HPB reluctantly ruled against appeal, but not before they lambasted the City's B&Z Dept. as irresponsible for not taking into account the massive trees, when first approving the building plans.

The Carrollton Communications Director mentioned that the coral rock wall had been damaged by the roots of the trees, and that it would be rebuilt.  

Ironically, those who gathered impromptu on Saturday evening to lament the trees' demise, all agreed that the only visible remains of the trees-- those roots still intertwined with the coral rock-- were one of the uniquely attractive elements of how trees adapt themselves to co-exist with their surroundings.  Too bad that we do not reciprocate by adapting to their presence, and figuring out ways to implement them into our plans.

Liliana Dones
TreeWatch Coconut Grove

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church submitted an application to kill 40 majestic oaks on NE 2nd Avenue between NE 60th and NE 62nd Streets. Foolishly, the City approved the application. An appeal was filed but unfortunately the "political" board members of the Historic Environmental Board caved in to pressure and denied the appeal.

August 19, 2015 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good points and a fair proposal. Call the City Manager, the Mayor and Commissioner!

August 19, 2015 9:19 AM  
Blogger Headly Westerfield said...

Furthermore, it doesn't help when the city of Miami fines a property owner $1,000 per tree for illegally cutting them down, but a plan was approved retroactively and the fine expunged.

This was the case in the illegal removal of very old trees on the E.W.F. Stirrup property when the $4,000 fine quietly disappeared and the whole problem went away.

Either they had a permit to cut the trees, or they didn't. You can't make the neighbourhood notification to appeal retroactive.

August 19, 2015 10:36 AM  

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