Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Developer had Clearwater okay to fell hundreds of trees for new subdivision

CLEARWATER — Passing motorists likely couldn't help but notice the destruction.

Big piles of downed and splintered trees dotted what had been a shady horse pasture on the north side of Union Street west of McMullen-Booth Road.

Of the 470 trees that once stood on the expansive property — many of them large live oaks — only 55 to 60 remain. The trees were cut down recently as construction begins on a 43-lot subdivision ironically named Majestic Oaks.

"I was appalled," said Louis Claudio, 60, of Safety Harbor, who said he has been driving past the property to and from work for 10 years. "The whole scene was a very nice, countryside, tranquil scene that is becoming more and more rare in Pinellas County."

"Unfortunately, to make this subdivision work, they had to remove trees," said Matt Anderson, who is the land resource specialist for the city of Clearwater.

Of the 410 or so trees that were removed, 336 of them required a city tree removal permit. Any tree with a trunk that is less than four inches in diameter, any palm tree with a trunk shorter than 10 feet and all invasive species can be removed without permits.

Many of the trees that were cut down were live oak trees that received poor ratings, Anderson said. Trees are rated on a scale from zero to six, with zero being a dead tree and six being a perfect specimen. However, the seven highest-rated oak trees on the property, all rated 4.0 or higher, were cut down because they weren't compatible with the development blueprint.

Trees rated below a 3.0 are considered hazardous, Anderson said, though sometimes a tree can be brought up to a higher standard by pruning away dead branches. Most of the saved trees on the property were oaks that rated between 2.5 and 3.5.

The developer, Deeb Family Homes, will be required to replace some of the trees that were destroyed, but not necessarily with trees the same size.

The city requires that on land zoned for residential use, each lot must maintain a certain number of native shade trees such as oaks, depending on the square footage of the property. Forty-two of the Majestic Oaks lots are between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet, requiring six shade trees each. One lot is more than 15,001 square feet, meaning that property will have eight shade trees.

Replacement shade trees must have a height of at least 10 feet overall and a 2.5-inch caliper, according to code. Caliper is an industry term to describe tree trunk diameter four inches above the ground.

Alternatively, a homeowner could plant two accent trees, which is equivalent to one shade tree in the city code. Accent trees have mature heights of less than 35 feet. Replacement accent trees must be at least 8 feet tall and have a 2-inch caliper.

Three native palm trees also are equivalent to one shade tree, so long as the palm trunks are at least 10 feet tall.

Anderson said the equivalency system encourages diversity among replacement trees. A lot, therefore, could have three shade trees, four accent trees and three palm trees, which would equal six shade trees in the city's eyes.

"We're hoping that because oaks are great and we love oaks in the city of Clearwater, that they will choose to plant oaks, but we're encouraging species diversity," Anderson said.

Claudio said his concern is "the loss of more greenspace to development, but some people would call that progress. Not necessarily me."

Calls to Deeb Family Homes were not answered by press time.

Josh Solomon can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected]

Comments
It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

LONDON — Kensington Palace says the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces (3.8 kilograms).The palace says the child was born at 11:01 a.m. (1001 GMT), a few hours after Kate was admitted to London’...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

TAMPA — New Tampa was built on sprawl. Big houses, often in gated communities with lots of green space, are the operating principle for developing the area Tampa annexed in pieces starting in the mid 1980s.But residents who love the good schools and ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

A large, disturbed weather system could drop thunderstorms and scattered showers across Tampa Bay. This is the same system that has caused water spouts and tornadoes to touch down around the Fort Walton Beach area in the Florida panhandle.This storm...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Waffle House customer on why he rushed shooter: ‘He was going to have to work to kill me’

Waffle House customer on why he rushed shooter: ‘He was going to have to work to kill me’

Moments before the first shot, James Shaw Jr. was watching a Waffle House employee wash dishes, stacking them higher and higher. When the first shot was fired, Shaw thought the tower of plates had come crashing down, he would later recount at a news ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

The Daystarter: Scott touts term limits in D.C.; Hillsborough teachers get day in court; All Children’s Heart Institute had ‘challenges’; Lightning tickets on sale today

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• We’ll have highs today ranging from the lower 80s to upper 80s with scattered showers and thunderstorms likely throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service.• As you h...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Waffle House suspect still being sought; residents on alert

Waffle House suspect still being sought; residents on alert

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As an intensive manhunt continues for the suspect in a Waffle House restaurant shooting that killed four people, police are warning residents of a Nashville neighborhood to beware of the alleged killer. More than 80 Nashville polic...
Updated: 2 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Does Gov. Rick Scott want to privatize Social Security?

PolitiFact Florida: Does Gov. Rick Scott want to privatize Social Security?

The president of a PAC that works to protect Social Security says Florida Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have the backs of senior citizens.Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, the president of the Social Security Works PAC (and a former member of the band Sha Na Na), blast...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Hooper: Leader’s vision may lead to new Woodson Museum spot

Hooper: Leader’s vision may lead to new Woodson Museum spot

Premier Eye Care CEO Lorna Taylor received the inaugural Winnie Foster Lifetime Achievement Award at a Carter G. Woodson Museum event Sunday in St. Petersburg.The award is as much about what she hopes to do as what she’s already done for the museum. ...
Published: 04/23/18
Apartments planned for shuttered stores at Pasco’s Gulf View Square mall

Apartments planned for shuttered stores at Pasco’s Gulf View Square mall

PORT RICHEY — The new owner of two shuttered department stores at Gulf View Square mall wants to demolish the former retail outlets and replace them with nearly 400 apartments.The complex, called Gables at Gulf View, would be on the west side of the ...
Published: 04/23/18
A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

In May 1914, a Hernando County grand jury decided not to indict John Davis, a black man accused of attempting to assault a white woman in a hotel. But days after he was released from the Citrus County jail, Davis’s body was found beaten with a broken...
Published: 04/23/18