Important Articles and Information

Here you will find educational and procedural articles related to trees and the Town. Check back often for updates!

Information on Treebute and Arbor Day

View information on the 2021 Treebute here

Update to tree removal permit process

Per Florida Statute 163.045:

Tree pruning, trimming, or removal on residential property.—
(1) A local government may not require a notice, application, approval, permit, fee, or mitigation for the pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property if the property owner obtains documentation from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect that the tree presents a danger to persons or property.
(2) A local government may not require a property owner to replant a tree that was pruned, trimmed, or removed in accordance with this section.

Conversation with Orange County Regarding Tree Removal along W 2nd Ave

Q. What protections exist in OC (and FL) to protect oak trees and other hardwoods?
A. Chapter 15, and in various Articles (VI, VII, IX, X, and XV) address the protection of shorelines and wetlands. These can be found here.

There are also policies within the Conservation Element that call out hardwood trees for protection. Oak trees as well as other hardwood trees are listed in the recommended stock list in Section 15-283(a). Live Oak and Magnolia trees that are 24-inches DBH or greater are specimen trees require double the mitigation compared to other trees. Conservation Element Policy CON1.12.1 states “Orange County shall augment its protection of vegetated resources in urban areas, including but not limited to the tree protection ordinance. This action would ensure that high quality trees would receive greater protection in the development review process, require preservation of valuable tree species, prohibit indiscriminate clearing, require replacement and maintenance measures, and establish ratios for replacement if removal is unavoidable.” This comprehensive plan policy is codified by the Arbor Code in Section 15-276(b). Section 15-278 stipulates that it shall be unlawful for any person to, or cause to, destroy, permanently injure or remove any protected tree without first obtaining a tree removal permit or other removal authorization or otherwise show that the tree qualifies for an exception in Section 15-279, which list the exceptions and exemptions. If a healthy/viable tree is removed through a tree removal permit, the corresponding number of inches removed must be replaced or mitigated in accordance with Section 15-283(d). Mitigation may be through replanting, payment into the tree fund or a combination of replanting and payment. If a healthy/viable tree is removed without a permit and such removal is not an exception or exemption, a restoration plan (including erosion control) is required for approval by the Zoning Manager, and mitigation is required at twice the normal replacement ratio.

Q. What is a homeowner allowed to remove? When do they need a permit? Under the exceptions in Section 15-279(9), the removal of trees on single-family residential lots which are two (2) acres or less in size and which are occupied are not required to obtain a tree removal permit.
A. See Residential Permits – A Pocket Guide, which outlines the permitting requirements for shorelines.

Q. Is the homeowner allowed to trim cypress in the water or within the high water mark?
A. See Residential Permits – A Pocket Guide, which outlines the permitting requirements for shorelines.

• Trees greater than 10 feet in height may be pruned or “limbed up” by removing up to 25 percent of the canopy material utilizing American National Standard Institute (ANSI) for tree pruning and trimming operations (ANSI A300). The American National Standard for tree pruning is ANSI A300. This pruning standard should be followed where possible in all pruning situations to remain consistent with industry standards, or by IFAS.

• Snags or fallen native tree species shall remain in place unless they are a potential hazard to persons or structures. If maintenance of a snag is necessary, at least 10 feet of the snag should be left standing to create habitat for wildlife (woodpeckers, insects, etc.) and in most cases, the associated debris shall be left in the conservation area.

• Generally, cypress knees may not be removed, cut, or shaved, unless they pose a potential problem for an existing structure (e.g., cracking a foundation, displacement of a/c units, etc.).

Q. How does a concerned citizen know if cypress trees are likely, or possibly, within the high water mark?
A. Concerns should be reported to EPDComplaints@ocfl.net and EPD staff will conduct an inspection. Citizens can also call 311 and report concerns. See the Orange County Mobile Apps Handbill with Links that identifies mobile apps (E-Alerts and E-Newsletters) that provide additional ways to stay up to date. Residents that would like more information on their personal property regarding high water marks and/or wetlands should contact: wetlandpermitting@ocfl.net.

Q. What should a citizen do when they see lakeside cypress being severely trimmed/stripped?
A. Concerns should be reported to EPDComplaints@ocfl.net and EPD staff will conduct an inspection. Citizens can also call 311 and report concerns. See the Orange County Mobile Apps Handbill with Links that identifies mobile apps (E-Alerts and E-Newsletters) that provide additional ways to stay up to date.

Q. How does OC EPD respond quickly enough to stop removal or severe trimming/stripping before the tree is removed or damaged beyond the ability to thrive?
A. Concerns should be reported to EPDComplaints@ocfl.net and EPD staff will conduct an inspection. Citizens can also call 311 and report concerns. Based on current staffing, other regulatory commitments, EPD has a 3-day response time to respond to complaints.

Q. Please address lack of any week-end response.
A. EPD currently does not have the ability to conduct weekend responses. Concerns should be reported to EPDComplaints@ocfl.net and EPD staff will conduct an inspection. Citizens can also call 311 and report concerns. Residents may always contact FDEP through the State Watch Office (SWO) on the weekends and afterhours. SWO number: 1-800-320-0519.

Q. What happens when a homeowner is cited and told to cease, yet they continue to remove/strip cypress?
A. EPD has a robust enforcement program that we use to bring properties into compliance. EPD uses compliance assistance techniques as well as formal enforcement. Measures include: Warning Letters, Notices of Non-Compliance, Notice of Violation, Consent Agreements, Site Inspection Warrants, Special Magistrate Hearings, etc.

Q. Do you recognize “repeat offenders” in individuals, builders, and/or contractors? If so, how does EPD deal with this?
A. We use a penalty matrix that takes into account a history of non-compliance. A base penalty can increase based on the history of non-compliance and how recent it occurred.

Q. What is EPD doing to educate the public?
A. EPD has prepared and disseminates the Residential Permits – A Pocket Guide. EPD has also prepared a Lakefront Homeowners Handbook that has been mailed out to more than 6,500 lakefront property owners.

Q. What is EPD doing to educate developers/builders/contractors?
A. EPD has prepared and disseminates the Residential Permits – A Pocket Guide. EPD has also prepared a Lakefront Homeowners Handbook that has been mailed out to more than 6,500 lakefront property owners.

Q. If an individual or company accepts fines as a cost of doing business, is there any other repercussion or remedy to protect old growth mature trees?
A. EPD uses a penalty matrix that evaluates each offense based on the extent of harm to the environment and extent of deviation from the regulations. EPD has a robust enforcement program that we use to bring properties into compliance. The property owner is responsible for ensuring that their property is in compliance and how they deal with their contractors is a private matter.

Canopy vs Understory Trees

From the Fall 2020 Gazette, written by Tree Board member, Leslie Brabec.

 

We thought it might be helpful in yard planning strategy to look at these 2 broad categories of trees to better understand placement and usage. That should make it easier to figure out what type of tree you want at the next Treebute tree give-away. This information comes from a great old hand out from the Florida Urban Forestry Council (circa 2005) that was given out at an old Treebute. So, thank you previous Tree Committee members!

First of all, we are very lucky here in the town of Windermere to have so many great old canopy trees. A great way to start planning is to do a drawing of your yard with measurements.  This will help you plant the best tree in the best location for size. Now, put in any existing trees and their type. Canopy trees are the taller trees that provide a large amount of shade. They come in a variety of heights, shapes and provide different patterns of shade.  Having a plan will allow you to figure out exactly what you want to shade and what time of day you want the shade.  Also make sure you know where the rising and setting sun is during winter and summer.  All the canopy trees need to be at least 30 feet away from power lines.  Additionally, if you want solar panels on your roof now or later you will want tall trees to be well away from those as well as your foundation, septic tanks, drain fields and water lines.  We are not saying you should eliminate any tree that is already there, just be aware as you plan new ones.  Please note that these are not all the canopy trees available.  The differences in shape, type of shade/canopy and deciduous or evergreen can give you choices to have exactly what you want in the place you want it. Just please make sure that the full-grown height AND the width is accounted for.

Oak, Live 60’-80’H   60’-120’ W Spreading canopy Open broken shade
Oak, Shumard 60’-80’H   40’-50’W Spreading canopy Denser but deciduous
Red Cedar, Southern 30’-40’H   23’-30’W Upright and Spreading Dense, good screen
Red Maple 35’-40’ H   25’-35’W Upright and rounded Deciduous, color
Sycamore 75’-90’H   60’-70’W Upright and spreading Deciduous, pretty bark
Magnolia, “Little Gem” 40’-50’H   15’-20’W Upright and narrow Color in leaf & flowers
Magnolia, Southern 60’-80’H   30’-40’W Upright, pyramid spreading Big fragrant flowers
Magnolia, Sweetbay 40’-50’H   15’-25’W Upright and narrow Smaller fragrant flowers

 

 

Now we will take a look at understory trees. As the name implies these are generally smaller trees that can sometimes grow under a canopy tree if they need shade. However, there are understory trees that do well with sun. Again, there are a variety of shapes such as multi trunked or single trunk and also the shape of the foliage itself. Some have lovely flowers and some have fruit for wildlife or people.  Most of these trees can be between 10’ and 20‘ from the power lines (depending on the height and or spread of the tree itself). They can also be closer to foundations or other structures. Here is a small sampling of these possibilities. If you are planting a tree under a large existing canopy tree, please be careful of the roots and plant a smaller understory tree.

Crepe Myrtle 10’-30’H   15’-25’W Low and spreading Sun and lots of colors
Fringe Tree 15’-20’H   10’-15’W Low & slightly spreading Sun and vanilla scented flowers
Loquat 20’-30’H   15’-25’W Low, spreading, dense Sun to partial shade, yellow edible fruits
Plum, Chickasaw 12’-25’H   12’-20’W Low and spreading Sun to partial shade, white flowers in spring
Privet, Japanese 12’-20’H   15’-25’W Dense crown, rounded, multi trunked Sun to partial shade, white flowers in spring
Redbud 20’-30’H   15’-30’W Slightly spreading Needs afternoon shade, bright pink flowers
Wax Myrtle 15’-20’H   15’-20’W Low and spreading Sun to partial shade, fragrant & blue berry
Weaver Dogwood 20’-30’H   10’-15’W Low &slightly spreading Shade under oaks & white spring flowers

 

 

There are so many beautiful trees available for our area. The hard part is picking just the right ones for our individual yards. These are just ideas to get you started. After you get the trees laid out, you can add the bushes and flowers. Have Fun!

Treebute 2021 will be different this next year. We will still have a tree give-away and are working to make it safe for all our wonderful town residents. Please watch for updates on our Town Website, Facebook and Town App.