What will happen to the crepe myrtle trees that dot a 7-mile stretch of U.S. 41 through Lutz?
That’s the question residents hope will be answered during a public meeting tonight on the topic. Hillsborough County officials plan to meet with residents at 6:30 p.m. at the Lutz Community Center, 98 1st Ave. N.W.
News broke not too long ago that the county intended to remove the trees in preparation for turning median maintenance along U.S. 41 back over to the Florida Department of Transportation. The county took over the medians several years ago when state budgets were cut. With its own funding now short, Hillsborough wants to turn the job back over to FDOT.
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When residents heard about the potential removal of trees, there was an outcry and a protest was planned.
“Removing 'OUR' Trees from Hwy. 41 is just another example of how our Government has assumed they own our County,” wrote Rod “Hot Rod” Gaudin, owner of Hot Rod’s County BBQ on the Lutz Patch Facebook page. “Our Government owns nothing! Everything they have, control, buy, sell or work is owned by the people.”
County Commissioner Ken Hagan heard residents’ complaints and looked into the issue.
According to Steve McGlocklin, Hagan’s assistant, it was decided to put the tree removal on the backburner until a meeting with residents was conducted.
"Everything is on hold until there can be a community meeting to discuss it," McGlocklin said.
Tonight’s meeting is open to anyone with a concern about the trees and the medians along U.S. 41.
“At this meeting, County Public Works staff will discuss the state-recommended maintenance needs, the meaning of the tree markings, and to hear from residents and answer their questions regarding the U.S. 41 median maintenance,” a county media release said. “Representatives from the local Florida Department of Transportation office and the Metropolitan Planning Organization also have been invited to attend.”
What do you think should happen with the medians? Share your ideas in the comments section.