Parkland officials find invasives a thorny issue

Developers who buy land in Parkland have to remove invasive plants and trees. Should the rule apply to someone buying an existing piece of property?

City officials debated that, and more, when they considered a petition from the owners of the Bell Parkland apartment community that asked the city commission to reconsider its condition that all invasives within the community should be removed within five years. Removing invasive plants from the property would be impossible as long as adjacent properties have them, the petition stated.

“We are being asked to do something that others have not been asked to do,” said Dennis Mele, appearing on behalf of the petitioner. He was referring to the Brazilian Pepper trees on two adjoining city-owned parcels on Holmberg Road, the right of way owned by Florida Department of Transport (FDOT) and the canal bank owned by the Pine Tree water control district.

“Three of four parcels near the property have Brazilian Pepper trees,” Mele said. “We can remove all the trees, but they will grow back as long as adjacent properties have them.

“You should have a policy that applies equally to everyone. We never agreed to do this.”

Commissioner Mark Weissman did not want the city to approve the request. “They need to maintain their property,” he said. “Own a property, make a profit on your investment and maintain a property. They have five years to make this happen. The city is trying to get invasive plants and trees out of city parcels adjacent to the apartment community.”

Vice Mayor Dave Rosenof wanted the city to have a comprehensive plan on the issue. “We may have to take this opportunity to make them remove the invasives,” he said. “It is the right thing to do. The only other option is to give up and let them grow. We cannot do that.”

Commissioner Christine Hunschofsky said, “I know that when developers come into the city, they have to remove invasives. This is an existing piece of property. I don’t want to pick on someone. We either do it for everybody or don’t do it. It is either a policy or it is not a policy.”

Commissioner Stacy Kagan agreed. “What is fair for one should be fair for all. If we make them remove the invasives, we should make all the others do it.”

As part of its plan to introduce a comprehensive plan on the issue, the city will reach out to owners of properties adjacent to the Bell Parkland community and ask them to have the invasives removed. A final decision on the Bell Parkland petition will be taken only after that.

Bell Parkland was formerly known as Winners Circle. It underwent modifications after the new management took over.

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