New rules in Lee County for cutting down trees on private property

You do not need a permit if you live in Lee County and want to get rid of a tree on your property. But that does not mean it is open season on all trees.

“It’s leaning ever so slightly this way,” said Lynn Mazzerle, who lives in Fort Myers.

Mazzerle said she worries any strong storm could knock down two of the taller trees in her yard. She had a professional inspect the tree to ensure it was “structurally sound.”

Mazzerle told WINK News she does not have to remove the tree. But new state law would make it easier for her if she decides it is time.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that would stop local governments from regulating the removal, replanting or trimming of trees.

“The one key take away from this is that it allows people to provide protection to their own property,” said Pam Seay, a Florida Gulf Coast University professor and a practicing attorney.

Seay warns before cutting down trees, some rules must be followed.

“This is not a free-for-all,” Seay said. “You absolutely have to have the input from a certified, licensed arborist, who can assure that this tree that’s being removed is a danger to a property.”

Michelle Loch, all-around tree specialists, recently spent a day removing a tree that was utterly rotting and another whose branches were touching the power line.

“A dangerous tree would have to be something that would hurt a property or power lines or maybe something that’s dying,” Loch said. “Not something that is far away from the house.”

However, the law does not define what is a “danger” in the context of a tree. Another potential loophole is while the bill does require documentation from a certified arborist, the law does not require the tree surgeon to visit the property or examine the tree.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Michael Mora
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