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Farm loses dozens of trees from construction

Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 08, 2016
For more than a year, signs have lined Race Track Road in Hillsborough County, protesting the development of more than 20 new homes in the quiet farm community.
 
"We've met with them several times, and they promised they would be good neighbors and that at the end, we'd be happy with everything they were bringing into our neighborhood. And we kind of started to accept that," said property owner Estela Orosz.
 
The developer even installed black fencing to separate the construction zone from her farm. But now, Orosz is looking at a huge mess from her backyard. Dozens of trees have been ripped out and fencing ruined.
 
A series of stakes clearly mark the farm's property line. But instead of stopping there, Orosz said developers continued right on down the fence line, knocking down dozens of trees in their path.
 
"I felt violated. We had no rights. They stripped our property rights away," she said.
 
It's not just Orosz's view that's in ruins. Her family runs Horse Power for Kids, a nonprofit farm and zoo that attracts hundreds of visitors a year. So they're most concerned about all the animals.
 
"They're the victims here because now they have no shade.  We're trying to raise money to put trees back up so that the animals will not suffer or die from the heat," Orosz said.
 
Thanks to the generosity of volunteers and donors, some new fencing is being installed, and a few new palm trees have been planted. But Orosz is hoping the developer will step up and take full responsibility.
 
"I'm hoping we can work together and that they'll restore what they've damaged and give us what we need to survive," said Orosz.
 
A representative with the parent company of developer Ryland Homes, CalAtlantic, did respond to our inquiry about the issue, saying, "We acknowledge that during the tree removal process on our property, a tree on the property line that was supposed to remain standing was mistakenly removed. We are working to resolve the issue."
 
As for Horse Power, replacing trees and fencing where they're most needed will cost at least $7,500. If you'd like to help, there's a Go Fund Me page set up here.