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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

An open letter from TreeWatch


An Open letter to the City of Miami Capital Improvements and Public Works Dept, Commissioner Ken Russell and the Coconut Grove BID

I write on behalf of Coconut Grove TreeWatch. Today we received numerous calls from neighbors and passers by disturbed about the tree cuttings along Grand Avenue, which apparently are part of the Capital Improvements that have been ongoing in Coconut Grove by the Business Improvement District (BID) for a number of years.


Here are the concerns of TreeWatch:

1. Concern about the lack of visible posting of the Intended Decision to remove 32 trees from the Public Right of Way.

As you may know, it has been our chief complaint for quite some time the way intended decisions are publicly posted, as they are invariably hidden from the public, with no protection from the elements.


The Intended Decision for the 32 trees were tucked into the 85-page Capital Improvements Plans  forwarded to me my Tim Schmand, Interim Director of the BID, after my visit with him today in the aftermath of tree cuttings. that document, dated, 1/14/16 notes that an appeal can be filed in the 15 day interim the last day of which would beJan 23 of 2016— but who knew.  As far as we know, THEY NEVER POSTED THE TREES.  

Among the 85 pages, there was no copy whatsoever of the photo that is normally taken of the public posting of an Intended Decisions, with the date of posting. There should  have been more than one posting, and not just one, on a project that intends to take down 32 trees on two sides of the street along 5 to 6 linear city blocks. But if there was even one, I missed it. And apparently so did many other people.

2. Concern about whether all of the 32 tree actually need to be cut down.

According a CID Press release that made its way to me this evening, these 32 trees are being cut down because they are “diseased or dead.” Yet according to the disposition in the 85 page document from Capital Improvements, there are at least 12 canopy trees and 7 palms which are neither sick nor dying (indeed7 are listed as fair 3  in fair-good condition, and 2 as good).  
Why are they being removed?


3. Concern about Mitigation (OR LACK THEREOF)
Page 85 of plan address Tree Mitigation Calculations. According to it:

A.  The number of trees to be removed are 32 (a total of 269.35 DBH)
B.   The total number of replacement trees required are 45 trees at 4” DBH with a 16” height.
C. Yet the number of proposed replacement trees, at the 4” DBH 16” height are a total of 25. 
WHY SO FEW? SHOULDN'T THE TAKING DOWN OF CANOPY BEGET MORE CANOPY AS MITIGATION?

4. Concern about size of replacement trees

If you are going to take down big canopy trees that have been a part of this neighborhood’s identity for so many years, why should we settle for  puny 4” DBH trees?.

It should be noted that when Treewatch was afforded the opportunity to appeal other parts of this project— Florida Avenue, Commodore and Virginia and Mary— even though we lost the appeal (Historic Preservation has to rule in favor of removal if the tree is cited to be “diseased or dead — which can be loosely interpreted as dangerous), we at least take comfort that they heeded our suggestion to then use replacement trees that were  much larger, and more substantial, which is why Florida Avenue and the ones on the Corner of Mary and Grand look decent now.  

We request 

1. That the 12 good to fair trees be reviewed and kept - or there impending demise further explained.  

2. That large canopy trees be used to replace the large canopy trees that were cut down (such as the ones along Yacht Harbor today). We will not settle for 4” dbh. We don’t want stick figure trees. (And you may want to take a look at removing the dander vines on the one oak near the one that got cut down today ( but hopefully not the entire tree)

4. That we seriously take a look at suggestions to make Intended Decisions more visible to the general public, as suggested in the email below I sent last year.

5. Advance and ample notice of the Plans for Main Highway as well as the Black Olives on Fuller— we actually have an appeal in place for the tree removals at Fuller going back a couple years, but it was delayed from hearing, and then it mysteriously disappeared.

Respectfully, 

Liliana Dones and Santiago Villegas
Coconut Grove TreeWatch

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