Saving an old oak tree is last gasp for Brandon nature lover

BRANDON, Fla. - Before we even started our interview, Lisa Julius let me know she was a real nature lover.
    
"I think it's a cardinal," she said... pointing into a huge old oak.  "It's a red bird of some kind.  But I don't see it now."

Lately, Lisa's lamented the loss of nature along her backyard tree line at Lennar Homes Brandon Pointe Townhome development.

"You know," she said -- motioning around the rear of her development.  "We definitely enjoyed having the trees and the quiet back here with the birds and the nature and everything."

Developers insisted the green belt would remain fat, but now Lisa's seeing more cut as the construction converges. 

And what she learned this morning after seeing a nearby home's framing finished was the last straw.

"I was told that there was no way that they could build a second story on this house that they have framed here unless they take out the tree," said Lisa, shaking her head.

An old oak, here for generations, was simply in the path of progress.

Of course -- at this point -- there's only one real way to  find out how old this tree is.  And that's to cut it down, but Lisa's not about to let that happen."

"You know this tree can't be replaced," she said.  "Once it's gone, it's gone... and that's really what I want:  I'd like to see Lennar not take out."

"I don't want to be like crazy tree woman," she concluded -- almost apologetically.  "But, when is enough enough?"

She's registered her complaint with the developer, but also with Hillsborough County.

Commissioners are promising action, including an arborist's investigation as soon as possible.  But just in case, Lisa was happy to have us help document her efforts to hold off the ax.  Even as we all wait for a formal response from Lennar.

"I know they'll probably still cut it down," she said.  "But if they don't, then at least every time I look at it, it's because I cared enough to try to save it."

I did get a response via e-mail from Lennar's Central Florida Division Presdident Mark Metheny just before news time this evening, thanking me for my interest in the situation. 

His response reads, in part:  "I have just been made aware of the concern about tree removal in our Brandon Pointe community and want you to know that we are carefully reviewing the situation and have engaged an arborist to assist in the analysis.  We take our responsibility to our homeowners, communities and environment very seriously."

We will continue to monitor this story and let you know how it turns out. 

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