Backhoes clearing trees

Levy County is adding inland tree mitigation to its land development code.

Levy County is in the process of bringing its land development codes up to date and implementing new codes to address inland tree mitigation.

Director of Levy County Planning and Zoning Stacey Hectus told the Levy County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday that she is going through the county's land development code to review sections that "haven't been touched" since 2003, 2007 and 2009.

"Landscape code is one of them," Hectus said, adding that currently there is no tree mitigation code for inland areas of the county.

"All we have is over 14 DBH [diameter at breast height] on coastal areas currently," she said about land development codes that require tree replacement.

During public comment a resident asked about tree mitigation of a recently cleared 33-acre lot in Williston and about the new Marathon station under construction in Bronson that is all pavement and no trees in its current building phase.

Hectus said tree mitigation is only addressed for inland development in the landscape section in codes for shopping centers in the parking lot, islands, or medians and focuses on hedges.

"Sign code is another one of them that hasn't been updated in years," she said.

In order to change the land development codes, the new language will be brought to the BOCC during public hearings and for public comments and BOCC discussion before they are voted on twice.

"You'll be seeing them at public hearings," Hectus said.

Resident Linda Cooper raised the topic and said she was concerned about the growth in Levy County without addressing landscaping, particularly in residential neighborhoods.

"They clear cut and asphalt over it," she said.

Cooper asked the BOCC to put a mechanism in place for tree replacement.

"Developers come in and want every inch of the land," Cooper said. She wants to make sure codes will minimize "the impact on people who have been there for decades."

Mainstreet Daily News Reporter

Suzette Cook is a Mainstreet Daily News reporter who has been a community journalist for more than 30 years.

(3) comments

Guest

"Unchecked development: Residential and non-residential construction in Florida in 2019 was a $58.7 billion industry generating over 154,000 building permits, according to the Association of General Contractors of America. That won’t slow down as Florida’s population is projected to reach 26 million by 2030, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

That means more water will be needed, while more garbage, more sewage and more roads will be produced. Disappearing land means that panthers and bears may join the manatees as Florida icons needing to be fed in order to survive."

Guest

Totally agree there needs to be conservation clause. It needs to be done asap, because what happens is, at least what I have seen in other rural areas, developers come in, clear cut, and then deal with planting the trees later.. still looks terrible.. sometimes the planning board will fine the developer for clear cutting, say a measily slap on the hand, so there is NO incentive NOT to clear cut.. they make out better paying the fine, than conserving the trees. Looks to be Levy County will be an area where the horse gets out of the barn too quickly, and then the rider plays catch up.. Development is coming, like it or not, and the County needs to plan for a future that nobody wants, but is coming.. Its happening in my rural area.. all under the guise of "progress," and "broadband install." My rural area has radically changed in less than 5 years.. and nobody saw it coming.. Well, those who are innocent did not know, those who are greedy, knew well in advance, and profitted while raping the land.

Guest

Yes there needs to be a conservation program developed

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