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City Council sticks to existing ordinance on power lines, trees

By Staff | Jan 27, 2009

Cape Coral City Council members unanimously voted down an ordinance Monday that would have allowed more flexibility for residents in the placement of trees near overhead power lines.
Many council members believe the current ordinance needs to be altered, but some were concerned the wording of the proposed ordinance was not specific enough in laying out how residents who plant trees too close to overhead lines would be made to pay for the trimming and maintenance of the trees.
“I think the best thing we can do is to find a mechanism to carry the responsibility of that to the people,” said Councilmember Pete Brandt, who initially supported the ordinance before reversing his position.
Three similar ordinances have been brought before the council within the past year, and Councilmember Dolores Bertolini expressed frustration that they have delayed an ordinance dealing with the landscaping of commercial properties she has been working on.
During a break, she reacted to a request from Mayor Jim Burch that she work with the Cape Coral Construction Industry and other groups in drafting a comprehensive, or global, ordinance to deal with the landscaping of all properties in the city.
“We’ll do it (work with the CCCIA) but that means it’ll delay the ordinance I have coming out,” Bertolini said.
Scott Hertz, a former president of the CCCIA and co-owner of Powell Construction, spoke out against the landscaping ordinance but said he has been working with Bertolini in crafting the new ordinance.
“We’ve been working with her on the bigger ordinance,” Hertz said.
Some residents, however, spoke in favor of the ordinance while criticizing the Lee County Electrical Cooperative, the electrical utility charged with maintaining the trees that threaten overhead lines.
“There are literally thousands of trees that violate (the current) ordinance. (LCEC) is not doing a very good job,” said Cape resident Bob Robinson.
Members of the Cape Coral Civic Association, who have consistently resisted changes to the current landscaping ordinance, again spoke out against any changes Monday.
“I would ask the council to read the current ordinance before they decide to change things,” CCCA President Ralph LePera.