Push to save Lee County royal palms continues

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LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Residents have won their fight to save dozens of royal palm trees, at least for now.

County leaders are pushing for the trees to be relocated, instead of cut down.

The trees line Gateway Boulevard near the Stoneybrook community. The problem is the private gateway organizations that maintain the medians, now want Lee County to take over, and the county is raising safety concerns.

The mature palms lend a distinctive look to the entry way to the Stoneybrook community.

“You almost think you are in a resort, they’re beautiful,” said resident Cathy Flaherty.

Lee County says the trees are too close to the roadway, and their huge trunks pose a danger to drivers who go off the road.

According to the county, there have been 12 crashes in the area in the past seven years. Many of the accidents involved cars slamming into the bases of the palms.

Homeowners in Stonybrook raised alarms last week, when they heard the trees would be cut down.

Now, the commissioner who represents the area, and lives in the community, is lobbying to have the trees moved away from the road rather than cut down.

“I don’t want to see the trees cut down and I’ve been urging the service district board members,” said Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, “to work with the HOA  to move the trees in the proper right of way so they keep the trees.”

Those who want the trees to stay, fear this could be a stalling tactic.

“This is not resolved, we are not happy,” said resident George Flaherty.

Pendergrass says it would cost about $80,000 to move the trees. Stoneybrook homeowners would pay the cost, not the countywide taxpayers.

There will be a meeting April 16 to try to reach an agreement.

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