“We don’t trust you.”
That’s what one Lutz resident told Hillsborough officials who attended a meeting to discuss the county’s plans to remove trees and other landscape plantings along a 7-mile stretch of U.S. 41.
That resident, John Hodges, wasn’t alone in the sentiment.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that man is right (we don’t trust you),” said Mike White, founder of the Lutz Citizens Coalition. “There is a huge disconnect at multiple levels.”
Thursday’s meeting was held to discuss the county’s plans to remove trees and other plantings along U.S. 41 in preparation for the road’s medians to be turned back over to the Florida Department of Transportation for maintenance.
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Jim Moulton, FDOT’s director of transportation operations, was present at Thursday’s meeting. He told attendees FDOT, as a rule, does not maintain landscape plantings such as the crepe myrtles found along U.S. 41.
Since the county said it couldn’t afford to maintain the medians any longer, FDOT marked trees it wanted Hillsborough to remove prior to handing the roadway’s care back over. Many of the trees, it was said, were aged and required removal no matter what.
Lutz residents weren’t sold on that notion. To prove it, they brought out their own arborist and also asked for an independent review of all vegetation slated for removal.
Mary Danielewicz-Bryson, a certified arborist and Lutz resident, told attendees that crepe myrtles have a lifespan of between 25 and 50 years. They are the perfect trees for landscaping in medians, she said, because they require little maintenance and don’t need to be trimmed.
In fact, when they are trimmed, Danielewicz-Bryson said, “We call it crepe murder in the industry.”
The trees and other plantings, she said, “create a sense of place. Don’t remove our sense of place.”
County officials weren’t the only ones to get the message Lutz residents were sending about their trees and their sense of community pride. State Sen. John Legg also attended the gathering at the Lutz Community Center.
“You’ve heard don’t mess with Texas,” Legg said. “It should be don’t mess with Lutz.”
County officials have agreed to explore alternatives to turning the medians back over to the state for maintenance.
Stay with Lutz Patch for updates as they become available.
Do you think there is a disconnect between Lutz and the county? What could be done to remedy the problem? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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