Did you now that in some places, you can face prison terms for illegally cutting down a tree?
Granted, the chance that you will go to jail is very slim, and this law does not come into play everywhere. However, it gives one an idea of how careful you need to be when planning to remove trees.
As Florida contains 22 of America’s 25 cities most threatened by rising sea levels and climate change, Floridan authorities are anything but lax when it comes to tree protection policies. In Venice, FL, removing trees without a tree removal permit can cost you substantially in fines.
To avoid this scenario, read on and find out everything you need to know about tree removal permits for Venice Island.
The Laws Around the Removal of Trees in Venice, FL
If you are seeing the signs that it’s time remove a tree, and are wondering ‘can I cut down my own tree?’—yes you can. However, depending on the size of the tree, you might need to apply for a tree permit.
The tree laws in Venice Island are governed by Sarasota County law which stipulates that the removal of trees with a trunk diameter greater than 4 1/2 inches at breast height requires an application for a permit.
In addition, in general, all palms require a permit for removal. Nuisance species of plants such as Malalueca (punk trees) and Australian pine do not attract fees, however, you are still required to apply for a permit.
The one exception to these laws is citrus trees (excluding mango trees) which can be removed without a permit, no matter the size.
How to Apply for a Tree Removal Permit
If you want to remove a tree or trees from your property, you will need to obtain the permit prior to removal.
To do this, you must fill out the application form. Onto the form you must include the following:
- A primary contact for the process
- The individual trees that are to be removed, with their species names
- The circumference or the diameter of each tree
- Reasons for the removal of each tree (if the tree is diseased or dying you might need to provide a signed letter from an arborist)
On the back of the form, you will also need to draw a diagram of your property illustrating the layout and where the trees stand which you are planning to remove.
Once you have filled out the application form you will need to submit it in person to:
City of Sarasota
City Hall Annex, 2nd Floor
1565 First Street
Sarasota, FL 34236
After you have submitted your tree removal application you will be given orange ribbons with which to mark the trees. It is very important that you get these in place within 24 hours of submitting your application.
These ribbons act as markers for the city arborist so that he/she can come and inspect the trees to make sure that they are suitable for removal. The ribbons are also meant to inform neighbors and others of your decision to cut down the marked trees.
If you fail to put the ribbons in place within 24 hours, this can result in a failed inspection. If this happens you will be charged a $100 dollar re-inspection fee.
Also be aware that according to county laws, you will also need to erect barricades around all remaining trees to protect them during the tree removal process.
New Laws Are on the Way
At present, Sarasota County is in charge of the tree laws and permits for tree removal in Venice Island. However, The City of Venice itself is within the process of drawing up policies governing tree law and tree removal in the city.
Once the City Code of Ordinances regulating trees is finalized, The City of Venice will take over the responsibility for permitting tree removal and trimming.
If you are planning to conduct tree removal in the coming months, be sure to check if the city has already taken over the permitting, or whether you must still apply with the Sarasota County Environmental Department.
What to Expect of the New Laws
Thanks to the growing concerns around climate change and flooding, it is unlikely that the new laws will eradicate the requirements for permits. Trees are especially helpful in stabilizing and draining excess water from the surface of the ground, which is one of the reason’s why Florida law protects private trees.
However, it might be that the specific permit stipulations could vary. Therefore, it is important that when the new laws come out you check for any changes in legislation.
Now You Know If You Need a Tree Removal Permit
Before planning any tree removal on your property, it is very important to check whether or not you will need a tree removal permit. Otherwise, you could end up being faced with hefty fines of anything between $2,000 to $50,000.
Start by measuring your trees. Once that is done, be sure to check whether the Sarasota County is still governing tree removal in The City of Venice, or whether Venice Island is administrating the permits yet.
If Venice Island has released its new laws, also double-check whether the tree that you wish to remove meets the requirements for permits.
If you are in need of tree removal services, we specialize in this! No tree is too big or too small. We utilize qualified arborists to streamline the permitting process.