Friday, July 20, 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
The Daystarter: Inside a suicide hotline center; St. Petersburg residents storm city council with allegations; should Rays trade Chris Archer?

The Daystarter: Inside a suicide hotline center; St. Petersburg residents storm city council with allegations; should Rays trade Chris Archer?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Today brings a 50 percent chance of rain and high temperatures in the mid to upper 80s, according to the National Weather Service.• As you head out for your morning commute, check out...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Get this: Bank of the Ozarks is the country’s largest construction lender

Get this: Bank of the Ozarks is the country’s largest construction lender

This surprised me: Little ole Bank of the Ozarks is the country’s largest construction lender, loaning out more to the industry than financial heavyweight Wells Fargo and Bank of America.Those factoids were part of a lengthy profile of the bank pub...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Carlton: Rotary Clubs support no-women-allowed dinner. What year is this?

Going "stag" sounds so old-fashioned — boys night out, sans the gals.But it’s not so outdated in certain Rotary clubs in the Brandon suburbs and still rural Plant City. There, the decades-old no-women-allowed tradition of the yearly stag Wild Game Ni...
Published: 07/20/18
Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer wants the Rays to get going.Trade more veterans. Bring back Willy Adames and bring up the next group of kids. Get on with getting better, and get back to reaching the postseason, as they did four times over six yea...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Chickens remain free to range in Ybor

Chickens remain free to range in Ybor

TAMPA — Ybor City chickens have escaped the political chopping block — again.The Tampa City Council on Thursday declined to do anything about a wild flock of poultry that drew a loud, strong throng of supporters to City Hall to ask council members no...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Activists camp out in protest at Tampa’s Homeland Security, ICE offices

Activists camp out in protest at Tampa’s Homeland Security, ICE offices

TAMPA — The national movement to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency came to Tampa on Thursday night — and it’s in tents.Approximately 25 local activists gathered next to Cypress Drive in front of the local Department of Homeland S...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome shoots 78 in PGA Tour debut

Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome shoots 78 in PGA Tour debut

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome survived her first round on the PGA Tour at the Barbasol Championship in Nicholasville, Ky., on Thursday, and she can't wait to do it again Friday.Though Lincicome shot 6-over 78 and will likely miss the cut — she ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Longtime Tampa Catholic athletic director Nick DiMaggio dies

Longtime Tampa Catholic athletic director Nick DiMaggio dies

Nick DiMaggio, the longtime athletic director at Tampa Catholic who was a fixture at the school's sporting events for more than 50 years, died Wednesday (July 18, 2018) from complications related to a stroke. He was 86."Nick was an icon, a walking en...
Updated: 7 hours ago
A Florida mayor is being asked to resign after citizens allege his chief of staff ‘preys’ on homeless black men

A Florida mayor is being asked to resign after citizens allege his chief of staff ‘preys’ on homeless black men

ST. PETERSBURG — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, seven residents called for the resignation of Mayor Rick Kriseman and Kevin King — one of his closest confidants — over allegations that King "preys" on homeless black men.Jesse Nevel, the vice pre...
Updated: 7 hours ago