On Aug. 8, 2011, the City of Port St. Lucie City Council adopted a Tree Protection and Preservation Ordinance that provides for the protection of mature trees with a diameter at breast height (D.B.H.) of 12 inches or greater and native palm trees with a minimum clear trunk of ten (10) feet or greater on public or private property. Platted single-family lots are exempt from the tree preservation requirements. The ordinance is linked to a citywide initiative to increase the city’s tree canopy to create a more sustainable urban forest, reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and to conserve resources.
The City of Port St. Lucie has been designated a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation continually since 2005 for its commitment to urban forestry.
Value of Trees
- Provide protection from the sun and wind
- Provide habitat and food source for birds and other wildlife
- Naturally reduce air pollution by filtering our harmful gasses and replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen
- Reduce surface water runoff and prevent erosion
- Absorb sound and buffer noise
- Enhance the natural and built environments and maintain the quality of life and general welfare of the city
General Requirements for Tree Removal
The Tree Preservation Ordinance requires that a permit be acquired prior to the removal of a protected tree. A permit must be obtained from the Planning and Zoning Department. Each application for a tree removal permit shall be reviewed and a decision rendered on approval or denial (in whole or in part) on the basis of one or more of the following criteria:
The tree is located within the net buildable area of a given site as identified on the tree survey and site plan by the applicant
The tree is located within an existing or proposed right-of-way
The tree is located within an existing or proposed easement, stormwater management tract, provided that only the minimum area reasonably necessary for the service shall be considered for purposes of determining whether there is necessity for tree removal
The tree is located where it creates or will create a safety or health hazard or a nuisance with respect to existing or proposed structures or vehicles or pedestrian routes and there is no reasonable alternative to relocate or reconfigure the improvements. The Zoning Administrator or City Arborist may require verification of claim(s) be provided by a statement from a certified engineer or certified arborist in the State of Florida.
The tree is located where it interferes with the installation, delivery, or maintenance of proposed or existing utility services to the site
The tree is confirmed by the Zoning Administrator, City Arborist, or by a certified arborist to be diseased, severely injured, or in danger of falling
The tree unreasonably prevents development of a lot or parcel of the physical use thereof. However, a tree removal permit shall not be granted where the applicant has failed to design and locate the proposed improvements so as to minimize the removal of trees consistent with the permitted use of the lot or parcel under the zoning ordinance as amended.
Mitigation is required for the removal of a protected tree at a ratio of one inch D.B.H. for each inch of D.B.H. removed. Trees preserved or relocated on-site, which exceed the minimum landscape requirements count as equivalent replacement D.B.H. Trees planted on-site which exceed the minimum landscape requirements shall count as one-half credit towards the mitigation requirements. Each palm tree which is preserved through on-site protection or relocation will count towards any required palm tree mitigation at a ratio of one palm tree preserved/relocated equal to one palm tree removed.
Platted single-family lots are exempt from the tree preservation requirements as long as the minimum landscaping requirements for single-family residential development are met and maintained
Non-native fruit trees including, but not limited to: mangoes, avocados, or species of citrus
Any property subject to the requirements of 157.39 of the Natural Resource Protection Code that is providing on-site or off-site upland habitat preservation and/or mitigation
Utility companies authorized to provide utility service may remove Protected Tree(s) that endanger public safety and welfare by interfering with utility service in an existing utility easement or public right-of-way
Failure to obtain a tree removal permit or authorization prior to removal of a protected tree may result in the issuance of a citation for violation of the Code of Ordinances. In addition, any tree removed without a permit must be replaced at a ratio of 3 to 1 and the applicant will be charged twice the normal application fee for tree removal. Each protected tree removed without a permit shall constitute a separate violation.
Tree Preservation During Construction
To encourage the preservation of trees, existing trees which are retained and preserved may be substituted for required landscape trees. Applicants must incorporate a tree preservation plan into the proposed landscape plan to receive tree credits. A tree protection barrier shall be placed around all trees to be preserved prior to any land preparation or construction of structures or other improvements.
- City of Port St. Lucie, Code of Ordinances, Chapter 153, Landscape and Land Clearing Code and Appendix C - Approved Tree List
- FPL - Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place
- Arbor Day Foundation—The Benefits of Trees
- Arbor Day Foundation—When to Prune
- USDA—The Effects of Urban Trees on Air and Water Quality