County must enforce statute
There is a horrible process raping our county of trees, grand live oak, elm, pine, cypress — basically any tree or vegetation. Some may have noticed this along Trinity Boulevard and State Roads 52 and 54 in Land O'Lakes. All trees and vegetation within 50 feet of Duke Energy's three-wire, high-tension power lines are affected. Pasco Code Enforcement and our County Attorney's Office have wrongly stated that under Florida Statute 163.3209 there is no action which can be taken. This is patently absurd as municipalities routinely enforce Florida Statutes.
The full statute requires the power company to adhere to specific standards when maintaining the power line rights of way which include no topping of trees, no ground level removal and no more than 30 percent removal of foliage. I believe Duke Energy is in violation of these standards and our county tree ordinance.
Duke is not exempt and must be ordered to cease and desist this destruction immediately. It is occurring at a very rapid pace and time is of the essence. This negatively impacts our county's beauty, our quality of life and all individuals, residential neighborhoods, and communities. Both sides of vegetation and trees, within 50 feet of the power lines, are being removed to ground level. It will be maintained in the future by the heavy use of herbicides.
Our county has a fiduciary responsibility to its citizens to stop this practice immediately by enforcing Florida Statute 163.3209.
Clay Colson, Land O'Lakes
Treat the disabled with equal care
This month marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It's a civil rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disability. The ADA applies to discrimination in employment, state and local government services, privately operated public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.
The Center for Independence, Inc. and The Arc of Florida, non-profit organizations that advocate on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, have seen positive changes in these areas since the ADA was signed into law in 1990. Just a few years before its passage, many disabled Floridians were institutionalized. Today, many are living and working in their community.
While great strides have been made in our society, discrimination still exists. Attitudes, poor enforcement of the law, underfunded programs and fiscal difficulties in state and local government budgets all contribute to the on-going need to be vigilant advocates for full inclusion and equality.
There are still issues here in Florida. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case Olmstead vs. L.C. that unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions is a form of discrimination. Despite this, our state continues to house some disabled individuals in institutions and children in nursing homes.
We hope our elected leaders will work to fund additional community-based programs, ensuring that all Floridians are treated equally and able to live in the community, where they belong.
Sean Kline, development director, the Center for Independence Inc.