2 PA IntB S.I.S4
Tampa Palms ordered to stop
logging operation on its property
By ERIK MILESTONE
The city of Tampa and the Hillsborough County En-
vironmental Protection Commission have ordered
Tampa Palms to stop cutting down trees on part of its
The city Parks Department and the EPC say they
Issued notices recently against any more "timberlng"
operations on some of the development's land north of
the University of South Florida.
But there appears to be confusion among the agen-
cies involved, and representatives from Tampa Palms
also say they are confused by what they believe are un-
clear or conflicting rules and regulations governing tim-
bering at the site.
The issue of who is responsible for protecting trees is
important not only to Tampa Palms, but to other large
planned developments in the area, the agencies say.
Tampa Palms is a 5,900-acre residential community
under development in northern Tampa. It is among
12,137 acres annexed to the city in January 1985.
The Parks Department asked the developer to stop
cutting down trees because it violated the city's land al-
teration ordinance, which prohibits removing trees with-
out a permit.
Steve Graham, city arborist, said the city was not
"aware they (Tampa Palms) were harvesting trees on
the property" until recently.
Part of the problem, Graham says, is the confusion
about who should be enforcing what law regarding tree-
cutting at Tampa Palms.
Representatives from the EPC, the state Department
of Environmental Regulation and the city Parks Depart-
ment met Wednesday to talk about the problem.
Another meeting is scheduled next week to discuss
The EPC notice, dated Aug. 5, says the developer
was cited for "altering wetlands (specifically timbering)
without prior permission" of EPC Director Roger Stew-
art and ordered the firm to cease the cutting "Immedi-
The notice was issued after an EPC agent made an
unannounced inspection of the site near Trout Creek on
the morning of July 30, county records show.
EPC staff members flew over Tampa Palms Wednes-
day and took photos of the logged area, said Leslie
Schaugaard, EPC environmental specialist.
The EPC inspection report says the "area was selec-
tively logged many trees left to reseed."
The "edges of (the) swamp are completely cleared
and equipment ruts are 1 to 2 feet deep," the report con-
"They were cutting not only cypress, but other hard-
woods within the swamp," Schaugaard said.
She said although the agency needs to do more field
work, the developer "should not have been logging with-
out our permission."
Sara Fotopulos, chief counsel for the EPC, said cy-
press trees are not allowed to be cut down without the
permission of EPC Director Stewart.
Chuck Courtney, the director of permitting land
development and project manager for the developer,
said the land in question has been logged for "probably
the last 100 years," adding that until the 1985 annexa-
tion, the land was part of Hillsborough County.
The contract with the current loggers has been in ef-
fect for about the past 10 years, Courtney said.
Courtney said he was unaware a law prohibiting
tree-cutting existed prior to receiving notice from the
city to cease timbering.
He said the developer, Good Property Co., agreed to
stop cutting the trees until the situation is resolved.
Maple, tupelo and cypress are a few of the trees
Courtney said the loggers cut.
Jack Vogel, president of Natural Resource Planning
Services Inc., a consultant to the timbering operation,
said his company has fought battles with various county
agencies for years over the logging.
Vogel said he thought commercial forestry opera-
tions were exempt from the Hillsborough County Land
Alteration and Landscaping Ordinance that regulates
tree-cutting in the county.
"It does not appear to us that harvesting in wetlands
Is a violation of the ordinance," he said.
Vogel admitted cypress trees were cut down, and
said the logging operation was a "legitimate utilization