Brevard Public Works Won’t Pursue Plan for Tree Removal, Pruning, Replacement on Rockledge Drive

By  //  August 24, 2021

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repaving project was scheduled for 2022

Residents who live along an oak-tree shaded area of unincorporated Rockledge Drive are being notified by letter this week that Brevard County Public Works will not pursue plans to prune, remove or replace any of the neighborhood’s centuries-old trees from private property as it prepares to repave a 2.5-milelong stretch of the scenic roadway.

BREVARD COUNTY • ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA – Residents who live along an oak-tree shaded area of unincorporated Rockledge Drive are being notified by letter this week that Brevard County Public Works will not pursue plans to prune, remove or replace any of the neighborhood’s centuries-old trees from private property as it prepares to repave a 2.5-milelong stretch of the scenic roadway.

The letter from District 4 Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith stems from a public meeting July 8 between the County and Rockledge Drive residents, who for years have lobbied against the County’s plans to trim low-hanging oak limbs and to remove some trees to make the road safer to motoring traffic and to accommodate a planned $428,000 repaving project scheduled for 2022.

At issue were tree limbs that overhang the road and pose safety hazards for vehicles, including fire trucks, garbage trucks, school buses, and recreation vehicles.

The County was focusing on traffic safety, but also was working to address concerns from residents who fear any tree cutting could be detrimental to the ambiance of their neighborhood.

The state requires clearance of 14 feet over roads, yet some of the trees along Rockledge Drive offer less than 13 feet of clearance.

A County arborist conducted assessments of Rockledge Drive that identified 37 trees that are in need of trimming or removal to comply with state safety requirements.

Affected property owners were notified and the County was considering – pending approval by the Board of County Commissioners – a funded voluntary tree exchange program in order to re-establish the canopy over time and to also mitigate future safety hazards by placing the trees farther back from the road.

“This letter is to advise you that I do not intend to pursue the proposed voluntary tree removal and replacement program at this time due to lack of interest on the part of the affected homeowners,” Smith’s letter states.

“Accordingly, the offer to relocate trees using County funding is rescinded. Since no program for removal or replacement of trees exists, no new offers of payment for such action at County expense will be made.”

District 4 Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith No said tree removal on private property adjacent to the roadway is under consideration. Similarly, I do not intend to pursue tree trimming at this time. However, the County maintains its right to trim trees affecting its ROW (Right of Way), just as it would throughout the rest of unincorporated Brevard County.

Smith emphasizes in his letter to residents:

No tree removal on private property adjacent to the roadway is under consideration. Similarly, I do not intend to pursue tree trimming at this time. However, the County maintains its right to trim trees affecting its ROW (Right of Way), just as it would throughout the rest of unincorporated Brevard County.

Brevard County Public Works officials have been working closely with residents along Rockledge Drive to improve road conditions and to also address public safety concerns regarding overgrown trees and limbs that pose accessibility issues for motorists, emergency, and other high-profile vehicles.

The roadway is popular for bicycling, jogging and walking, and leisure drives along Indian River Lagoon.

The letter to Rockledge Drive residents indicates that in the coming month’s residents will be seeing survey crews and other consultants in the area as the County prepares for the repaving project.

There are also lingering concerns that some of the existing trees may still be in jeopardy since significant parts of their root systems have grown beneath the existing road surface and there is still a chance that some limbs and branches that hang over the County right of way could impede County equipment moving on and off-site, a situation that would have to be addressed.

Smith said he will notify residents before the repaving project begins.

“As I said at the end of the July 8th meeting,” Smith’s letter said, “The only thing I think that we can all agree on is that no matter what we do, we will not make everyone 100 percent happy.’ ”

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