Tuesday, October 16, 2018
News Roundup

Bayshore landowner faces citation for cutting oaks as Tampa considers making it easier

TAMPA — The owner of a parcel of land along exclusive Bayshore Boulevard will go before the city of Tampa’s tree magistrate March 14 to face a citation for cutting down two grand oak trees without a permit.

One angry neighbor accused the owner of using the threat of Hurricane Irma to do the job — even though the house that would have been protected from storm-struck limbs was razed soon afterward anyway.

The case comes as the Tampa City Council is moving ahead with changes that would streamline the tree removal process — the subject of a divisive debate before the council Thursday pitting some Bayshore residents against builders.

"It sounded like a bomb had gone off," said Alexa Jessee, who lives near the property at 6216 Bayshore Blvd where the trees once stood.

RELATED COVERAGE: Tampa takes baby step to make it easier to cut trees

Jessee went to investigate the sound Sept. 9 and found a landscaping team cutting down the two trees and five smaller ones. She asked if they had a permit and they told her they did, adding that they were protecting the house from the coming storm, she said.

But one of the tree limbs already had fallen into the house and none of the workers seemed concerned, Jessee said.

"It truly was gut-wrenching. They had no regard for those beautiful trees."

The brunt of the storm hit overnight on Sept. 10. When Jessee returned to her home, after evacuating to Brandon, she found no storm damage in the area. She filed a complaint as soon as city hall reopened Sep. 12.

The city investigated and found Andreas Dettlaff of Tampa had violated an ordinance requiring a permit to remove any grand tree, defined as a tree more than 34 inches in trunk diameter.

Grand oak regulations adopted by Hillsborough County describe their value: "When a tree reaches grand oak status, it’s one of the largest and oldest specimens of its kind in our area, and it has withstood decades of development, deforestation, windstorms and hurricanes."

The city issued Dettlaff a cease and desist order but says he failed to follow it. All trees on the property, as well as the house, have been removed. Dettlaff purchased the property in July for $1.5 million, according to the Hillsborugh County Property Appraiser’s Office.

Reached by phone, Dettlaff told the Tampa Bay Times, "I’m not quite sure what’s really going on until I meet with the city. I really can’t comment until I have more information."

It took two months, until Nov. 2, for the city’s code enforcement department to issue Dettlaff a citation because it was overwhelmed by the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Meantime, Dettlaff paid an after-the-fact, triple permit fee of $1,850 for doing the work without authorization.

Still, "paying a fee does not clear him of the violation," said Thomas Snelling, the city’s director of planning and development.

Dettlaff was given until Nov. 23 to either replace the grand oaks or donate to the city’s tree trust fund. He did neither, the city says, and now faces the March 14 hearing.

The magistrate could fine Dettlaff or require him to comply with the original order. The magistrate also could dismiss the case entirely, but Snelling said that’s unlikely.

"I think Tampa prides itself on its tree canopy," Jessee said, "and it sets us apart from these other cookie-cutter cities where they knock down hundred-year-old trees and just plant little oaks.

"Somebody’s got to speak for the trees."

Contact Libby Baldwin at [email protected] Follow her at @LibBaldwin.

Comments
Spring Hill man killed in apparent home invasion

Spring Hill man killed in apparent home invasion

A Spring Hill man was killed early Tuesday morning in an apparent home invasion. Deputies say the incident does not appear to be random and may be drug related.
Updated: 1 hour ago
More record heat possible for Tampa Bay before an expected weekend cool-down

More record heat possible for Tampa Bay before an expected weekend cool-down

Record high temperatures are forecast for the first half of the week, but there is hope for a cool down by the end of the weekend as an area of high pressure weakens and a cold front drives southeast.
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Bridging the Hurricane Michael cell connection breakdown; she died trying to save her children; what’s ahead for Bucs with Mike Smith gone?

The Daystarter: Bridging the Hurricane Michael cell connection breakdown; she died trying to save her children; what’s ahead for Bucs with Mike Smith gone?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• The heat is back. Expect temperatures in the 90s, partly cloudy skies with a slim 10 to 20 percent chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Temps could drop slightly...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Know the Foe: Connecticut

Know the Foe: Connecticut

A look at Connecticut, which plays No. 21 USF on Saturday at Raymond James StadiumNickame: HuskiesRecord: 1-5 (0-3 AAC)Win: Rhode Island, 56-49Losses: UCF, 56-17; at Boise State, 62-7; at Syracuse, 51-21; Cincinnati, 49-7; at Memphis, 55-14Coach: Ran...
Updated: 2 hours ago
She dedicated her life to kids. She lost it trying to save them.

She dedicated her life to kids. She lost it trying to save them.

ST. PETE BEACH — Those who knew her said Samar Aboukhdair did everything for kids, and not just her own.So when they heard how the 36-year-old died this weekend, it was no surprise that it was while trying to save her children.The kids survived, but ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
To get to Ybor's spookiest bar, step through the secret bookcase

To get to Ybor's spookiest bar, step through the secret bookcase

The Spookeasy Lounge in Ybor City has a spooky, but upscale Victorian tea lounge vibe and a hidden entrance.
Published: 10/16/18
In Hernando County clerk race, it's insider vs. outsider

In Hernando County clerk race, it's insider vs. outsider

Republican Doug Chorvat faces independent Michael Lamberti for the Hernando County clerk's race.
Published: 10/16/18
Vagabond spirit guides seamstress on the biker festival circuit

Vagabond spirit guides seamstress on the biker festival circuit

Eileen Ceder, aka "The Slipper Lady," is a snowbird traveling the motorcycle festival circuit. A moccasin maker who also sells fabric patches, she can sew them on right then and there.
Published: 10/16/18
Can new family resource center reshape struggling Hernando County school?

Can new family resource center reshape struggling Hernando County school?

State Schools of Hope grant provides after-school and evening classes and services to help students and their families.
Published: 10/16/18
Clearwater tweaks downtown incentive program

Clearwater tweaks downtown incentive program

CLEARWATER — On the heels of intensive meetings with downtown property owners and potential business tenants, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency has tweaked its incentive programs designed to attract businesses that would operate...
Published: 10/16/18