Seminole County conservation district condemns tree-rule preemption bills


The two bills moving through the Florida legislature aiming to preempt local rules and ordinances on tree removal got a vote of resounding opposition Tuesday evening from the Seminole County Soil & Water Conservation District.

The Seminole district became the first county-wide agency to vote formal opposition of House Bill 521 and Senate Bill 574, as the district supervisors debated concerns that the bills are intended to protect development from local ordinances and regulations.

The bills preempt to state regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property; and prohibit certain local governmental actions relating to trimming or removal of trees or timber and burial of vegetative debris on private property. The sponsors, Republican state Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota and Republican state Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole of Plantation have promoted the bills as restoring property rights.

Seminole Conservation District Vice Chair Ed Young argued the bills are intended to remove another local control over development. He maintained that among other ramifications, the bills could prevent cities and counties from requiring green space buffers to be maintained around parks, including state and national parks.

In the past couple of years it has become increasingly common for local opposition to state preemptions on environmental matters to take hold in Seminole County. Young said the Seminole Board of County Commissioners and cities in Seminole County also may be considering resolutions to do so, based on home rule concerns, and on conservation concerns.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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