West End owner racks up $36k in tree fines

Two dead pine trees in close vicinity to homes along the former West End Golf property were removed this week after accruing months of daily code violation fines totaling more than $36,000.

During an Oct. 7th Alachua County Special Magistrate hearing, a county forester and landscape inspector presented photos of one of the dead pine trees that sat in close proximity to homes lining the unkept golf course.

The inspector noted that the tree was in violation of Section 74.29 of the Alachua County Code, which prohibits “hazardous lands/dangerous structures.”

Case number SM 21-060, Alachua County vs. West End Golf Club, Inc. was discussed during that meeting about the trees and property registered to Peter Min, who was not present at the hearing to ask for a reduction to any potential fines.

Senior assistant county attorney Diana Johnson presented the case and recommended a fine of $250 a day until the owner brought the property into compliance.

According to county planning manager Jeff Hayes, the two trees were cut down and the property was brought into compliance on Dec. 16.

Hayes said that Min is now responsible for a $36,710 fine for the code violations, including a $210 charge for legal filing fees.

“The property owner does have the ability to request a reduction in the fine,” Hayes said.

The unkept golf course has caused several adjacent property owners to complain to Alachua County about the property status, but unless overgrown vegetation or dangerous trees are close to homes, the property owner is not required to keep the 75 acres manicured.

According to Christopher Barnes, an Alachua County code enforcement officer who has inspected the front of the property to follow up on reports, there are a lot of complaints about the 75-acre recreational parcel that the county can’t address.

“A lot of things that we have to deal with out here we can’t access because we’d be trespassing,” he said. “It’s only what you can see from the driveway.” 

The fate of the property has been in limbo for two years as developers and local citizens battle over appropriate use of the space. Last week the developer unveiled a compromise plan that would build fewer houses and retain 37 acres of green space. 

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