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New law allows property owners to remove, trim trees without a permit

Property owners no longer have to get a permit from their municipality to remove or replant trees.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Part of preparing for hurricane season is making sure the trees around your home don't pose a risk if a storm were to hit.

Up until recently, if you wanted to remove a tree on your property, you probably had to get a permit from the city or town in which you live, but that's not the case anymore.

A new law in Florida bans local governments from regulating tree removal and re-planting on private property.

The new legislation called, "Private Property Rights," allows property owners to remove, replant, prune, or trim a tree without approval from their local municipality. If a licensed arborist determines the tree poses a danger, you're free to do what you want with your tree.

A property owner will still need to obtain documentation from an arborist or licensed landscape architect that the tree presents a danger to people or property. 

Andrew Schaaf is the co-owner of O'Briens Tree Service and Stump Grinding. He's been servicing trees around Tampa Bay for decades. While he supports property owners getting more rights, Schaaf thinks they could be taken advantage of.

"There's going to be a lot of trees that are going to be removed when they don't need to be," explained Schaaf.

Another big change under the new law is owners don't have to replant a tree after one was removed, but Shaaf thinks property owners should consider replacing trees anyway.

"We need trees. We need trees in this area. I'm a St. Pete native, and if you just remove trees and you don't replace them, what is our area going to be like in 100 years?"

If you're looking into removing a tree on your property, make sure you're dealing with a licensed and insured arborist; and you'll want to get more than one opinion on what's the best course of action for your tree.

Click here to learn more about the new law: Private Property Rights

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