A State Statute approved in 2012 could lead to the removal, without mitigation, of 1000’s of trees in utility easements throughout Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

State Statute 163.3209 Electric transmission and distribution line right-of-way maintenance states: no local governmnet shall require or apply any permits or other approvals or code provisions for or related to vegetation maintenance and tree pruning… The term vegetation maintenance and tree pruning or trimming means the mowing of vegetation within the right-of-way (and/or)  removal of trees or brush within the right-of-way… This means all trees growing in any utility easement (and what property exist without easements) are eligible for removal without permit or other restriction.  Later in the same Statute it  states that:  A local government shall not adopt an ordinance or land development regulation that requires the planting of a tree or other vegetation that will achieve a height greater than 14′ in an established electric utility right-of-way or intrude from the side closer than the clearance distance specified in Table 2 of ANSI Z133.1-2000.   In my opinion a plant that does not reach a mature height of greater than 14′ is not a tree! The combined effect of these portions of the Statute mean that 1000’s of trees growing along the main roadways that serve as entrance features to our Cities as well as the streets up and down subdivisions are fair game for removal and no “tree” is allowed to be replanted in the area. In the past our main utility power provider in South Florida has trimmed, hat-racked, overlifted and topped trees much to the chagrin of Landscape Inspectors, Urban Foresters and tree huggers everywhere, but now there seems to be an unbridled fervor to remove large quantities of trees throughout our urban Forest in the name of inrastructure hardning.  Regrettably, armed with the shield of this Statute they currently have the right to remove the trees, no matter how many or how stately, and not allow any functional replacement.  I believe it is in the best interest of our Community, our environment and our future to repeal this Statute until such time as a reasonable compromise can be forged. That’s my opinion, what is yours?