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Oviedo considers using tree bank funds beyond city property

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Update on May 18, 2023: 

The Oviedo City Council approved this ordinance on Monday, May 15.

Residents might notice more trees around the City of Oviedo after the City Council gave preliminary approval of an ordinance Monday night that will allow the city’s tree bank money to fund the planting of trees on private property. The Council will take the final vote on this measure on May 15. 

More than $290,000 is in the city’s tree bank, which developers are required to pay into when they cut down trees on their property that cannot be replanted. 

Allowing these trees to be planted on private property will give the city flexibility to expand its annual Arbor Day tree giveaway next year. Annually the city purchases and gives away 500 trees at this event. The next one is from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 13 at Oviedo City Hall. 

“We’d like to use those funds to expand this program and see some good work come out of the ground and make our [tree] canopy better,” Assistant City Manager Patrick Kelly said. 

Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said that this new rule will also help with tree overcrowding in public properties within the city. 

For instance, she said, the oak trees under the power lines at the entrance of the Foster Grove neighborhood and in front of the Panera Bread restaurant on Mitchell Hammock Road must be constantly cut so they don’t interfere with the lines. 

“There are far too many of them for any of them to thrive, and though it may now be allowable to thin out the trees, the cost to do so would be astronomical, so there they grow, constrained,” Sladek said. 

When this issue came before the Local Planning and Zoning Board on April 18, LPA member Steven Rich said he thought the tree bank money would be better spent on larger trees being planted in the city. 

“$290,000 is a substantial amount of money but there’s a lot of places that you could plant really large trees in the city that would be, in my opinion, more beneficial and stand a better chance of surviving. Just my thought,” he said. 

OCN requested records to get a snapshot of how much money developers deposit into the tree bank fund versus how much the city spends from the fund.  

Year Tree bank deposit Tree bank expenditure
2018 $12,025 $27,370
2019 $50,900 $20,442
2020 $17,700 $0
2021 $31,000 $55,555
2022 $8,650 $23,396

According to the city, around 30 to 40 trees have been planted in that 2018-2022 time period. In addition to this, Oviedo spokesperson Lisa McDonald said the city has planted “many” trees in its parks, including nine this year at Shane Kelly Park, but did not have a definitive amount for that time period.

LPA member David Pollack proposed that the city could integrate a program in the future where the city would plant the trees for the residents who brought trees home from the Arbor Day event. He referenced the Street Tree Planting program the city of Safety Harbor adopted (his former town).  

“That way we can ensure the money is going to its intended purpose,” he said. “So we’re not spending money on a crepe myrtle for somebody to pick up and leave to die in their front yard because they never get around to planting it. In this instance they’re taking the money to put it right in the ground and we know it’s getting watered and growing in Oviedo. 

He said he applied for a tree to be placed in his yard there. “I came home one day and there’s a full oak tree in my yard.”

During the May 1 meeting, Sladek asked if the tree bank fund could be used for vegetation. She said residents have asked her about planting vegetation around  local retention ponds. City Manager Bryan Cobb said the tree fund policy allows for vegetation and irrigation costs and that the details of this will be discussed during the May 15 final hearing on the ordinance.

Oviedo has been recognized in the Tree City, USA program for 24 years

“We meet the tree city requirements now, and we want to start to grow public engagement then expand the program,” Kelly said. 

Sladek said in an email that she is enthusiastic about the amendment. She said that there is room for improvement on privately owned land in terms of trees.

“It doesn’t matter where a tree grows in Oviedo, it still helps clean the air and improves our quality of life, so I am glad to see this level of flexibility added,” she said. “This will let trees be planted in places where they are needed most, even if that place is not owned by the City of Oviedo.” 

Those interested in attending LPA meetings and City Council meetings can attend in-person or view the YouTube livestream. The livestream link, along with agendas and other information, can be found at

Megan Stokes contributed to this article. 


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