The following frequently asked questions are related to the recent discussion of tree replacement in downtown Mount Dora.
1. How many oaks (laurel and/or live) were removed on 4th between Donnelly & Alexander?
4 Laurel Oaks were removed from north side of 4th Ave. west of Donnelly. They will be replaced with 4 Live Oaks.
1 new live oak will be added on north side of 4th in front of parking lot and 1 new live oak will be added inside the parking
2. Are any more to be removed from that section?
2 live oaks in front of Windsor Rose Tea room remain. 2 laurel oaks removed
3. How many oaks (laurel and/or live) will be removed on 4th between Donnelly & Baker?
2 live oaks on south side of 4th by museum remain. 4 laurel oaks in this section removed
4. How many oaks (laurel and/or live) will be removed on Donnelly between 3rd & 4th?
2 live oaks remain. 1 new live oak in front of parking lot at 3rd & Donnelly and 2 new live oaks in that parking lot. 5 laurels oaks removed.
5. Will 'oak for oak' be replaced in each section?
Not in every section. All 15 laurel oaks removed. All 6 live oaks remain. 9 -10 new live oaks planted (we are trying to fit 1 more on Donnelly near 3rd.) Live Oaks require a certain amount of space and clearance in all directions. Here are guidelines we follow:
A. Live Oaks have a life span of 200 years. They can reach 60' ht. and 60'+ spread, with trunk diameters of several feet. They do not tolerate being planted in spaces that cripple their health by restricted space for roots or canopy growth, or that require unnatural and abusive pruning.
B. Planting area: Minimum 100 sf. This concerns the amount of space for healthy root growth and surface area for air/water exchange. This should be a minimum of 200 to 333. That said, Live Oaks planted in too limited spaces will suffer, under perform, and decline. So, even if you want to push the envelope, which has been done in the project, it would not be wise to allow any less than 100 sf of planting area.
C. Utility clearance: Minimum 20'. This is a public health, safety, and welfare issue. Planting Oaks near any overhead utilities is irresponsible for both the trees and the utilities. Utility companies routinely butcher trees that have been planted too close and grow into their lines. Landscape professionals know that 30' is the minimum horizontal distance from overhead utilities, but Mt. Dora has pushed the limit on that already to 20' +/-. This is also the recommended minimum for any underground lines, because of the potential to have to excavate any underground utilities for repairs.
D. Building clearance: 15'+. We cannot allow trees to grow against buildings, causing maintenance and liability issues. 15' is actually too little for a species with a 60' spread, but in design, landscape professionals consider opportunities for creative (but proper) pruning that will allow the canopy to be "lifted" over time, to fit a given space.
E. Street light clearance: Minimum 15'. Trees must not block lighting for public safety. Canopies can be lifted to clear lights as the trees grow, at this distance.
F. Visibility issues: Do not block signage. This must be considered for the sake of and the request of the downtown business owners.
Combining these factors provides a clear picture for how, why, and where Oaks can be planted. Logically, the available planting area, and the overhead and underground clearances that we must work with are what determines what we can plant where.
6. Are all of the oak replacements accurately reflected in the final plans?
Yes. The city can provide printed and electronic copy of the plans. The final plans can also be accessed in October 27, 2014 agenda packet online.
7. What will be the size range of the replacement oaks?
The new Live oaks are 20’ tall with a 12’ span and 6” min. caliper. Same as new live oaks planted in Phases 1 and 2.
8. Does the oak replacement quantity and size meet canopy mitigation requirements for removal?
We are in compliance with the code. There are no canopy mitigation requirements. The Public Works Department signs off on the site development permit which includes the trees approved removal and replacement. For large projects, commercial sites and subdivisions, tree removal is addressed through the construction plan approval process. The trees were evaluated by our design team and determined to meet criteria Section 90.150 of the Code of Ordinances. Specifically Section 90.150.b.2. was followed and the trees removed met this criteria. The City Council discussed this with the design team and approved the final plans as permitted. These are the same plans provided to and approved by the CRA Advisory Committee and City Council.
9. Was the public involved in the decision making for the downtown improvements?
Yes. The City Council, Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee and city staff have held over 25 public hearings, public meetings and workshops and open houses to discuss the downtown improvements. This was combined with an extensive public outreach program to inform business and property owners of the details regarding the improvements themselves, traffic management and construction practices used in the process.