City of Tampa reconsiders Grand Oak Tree ordinance

TAMPA, Fla. - "It's a lightning rod issue," said Tom Snelling, City of Tampa.

Some of Tampa's prettiest neighborhoods are lined by Grand Live Oak trees.

"If you start messing with the ordinance, so to speak, it will definitely have an impact," said Joe Chillura.

But how the city protects these decades old trees may be changing.

"There a lot of new people in the area coming into the area that are only interested in maximizing their profit," said Chillura.

Chillura, former Tampa City Council member drafted Tampa's original 1972 ordinance which forces landowners to get proper permitting to take down or trim live oaks or be heavily fined.

"We had 40 years or more of different people, from different departments, going in there making one little line change," said Snelling.

Now the City is taking a comprehensive look at the tree ordinance.

Recommendations from the Mayor's Competitiveness Committee ask for more flexibility regarding grand tree preservation, more flexibility for city staff to approve removals and rescinding the 50 % tree preservation rule in certain areas of the city.

"That one size doesn't really fit all because different parts of the city are different. There are parts of this city that are heavily treed and need to be protected very aggressively and there are parts of the city where perhaps you don't need as much protection for trees," said Snelling.

Four decades has turned neighborhoods like this one into beautiful, canopied streets but Chillura is wary changes might loosen restrictions too much.

"It's won us one of 9 cities in the U.S. that has a superior tree canopy," he said.

A public workshop on the ordinance is planned for April 27th at 9 AM at Old City Hall.

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