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Cut down a tree, pay the city: North Port residents react to 'Tree Fund'

North Port aims to prioritize tree preservation through its tree fund.
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Posted at 8:21 AM, Jun 13, 2024

NORTH PORT, Fla. — City officials in North Port encourage property owners to think twice before chopping down their trees.

"The way the permit structure and the way the code is set up is to incentivize preserving trees on the lot," said Urban Forester Ryan Pieper.

However, that incentive isn't sitting well with people like Timothy Drumm.

"Now, people are incentivized to keep some of these trees maybe to try and save some money, but down the road, that could actually cause damage if the trees are knocked over during a storm," Drumm said.

Drumm is an engineer who lives in North Port. He told North Port Community Correspondent Victoria Scott that the money it costs to clear a lot can discourage potential homeowners.

"I think some of these lots are almost becoming unbuildable because it's just not financially feasible to remove all the trees," Drumm said.

The price tag can run into the thousands.

"Your fees can be anywhere from, what I've seen from most of my clients, a couple thousand dollars up to seven, eight, $10,000 for a single lot just to remove the trees that are required to build a house on it," Drumm told Scott.

The money goes into North Port's Tree Fund. The city's natural resources manager said there's around $4 million sitting in it now.

"That fee helps cover many aspects starting from the cost and expenses associated with our new natural resources division," said Natural Resources Manager Stefan Kalev. Planting trees, maintaining trees on public or city-owned properties, and potential re-wilding projects," are a few examples.

Other homeowners told Scott they're all for it if it means preserving the environment.

"The tree fund is very important to our community," said North Port resident Robin San Vicente. "Not only to our wildlife habitat communities, but also to the overall health of the citizenship."

Residents now have to weigh those factors against the cost of clearing their yards.