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Put a tree in the ground, or money in Pinellas Park's 'bank'

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published July 18, 2007


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PINELLAS PARK - If you have just the spot for a new tree but haven't been able to afford one, you might want to make a withdrawal from the "Tree Bank."

The Tree Bank is Pinellas Park's attempt to help developers who can't meet landscaping requirements while ensuring that the city is not shortchanged on trees and shrubs. Council members unanimously approved the bank last Thursday.

The concept is simple: Sometimes developers are unable to plant all the trees or shrubs required by the city's code. That can happen if the lot is small or if wires, signs or other obstructions could compete with the vegetation as it matures. At such times, developers ask the city to waive its requirements to plant trees or shrubs. In the past, city officials have suggested that the builder or developer donate the money that would have been spent on the landscaping to the city for use elsewhere, but it was not mandated.

Now the donation is a requirement. Developers, builders or others who get such a waiver must pay into the Tree Bank an amount equal to the cost of the missing vegetation. The money then will be used to buy trees or shrubbery for public or private landscaping.

The city's volunteer citizens' Community Projects Advisory Board will establish procedures for applying for Tree Bank funds, and also will decide who gets the money.

"I think it's a pretty good deal," Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler said.

The council must grant the waivers.

[Last modified July 17, 2007, 21:27:47]


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