12 mahogany trees torn down without city permission

District got county permit before tree removal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A dozen huge mahogany trees were cut down by a contract working for the Broward County School District without a city permit and now residents are angry and the mayor wants to know why the District didn't ask permission.

Randall Klett witnessed crews destroying the row of trees along NE 4h Avenue on the west side of Fort Lauderdale High School and thought they were trying to a pull a fast one.

"Construction companies don't work Friday at 5 o'clock in the rain," Klett said.

He snapped pictures of crews working hard at quitting time and couldn't believe his eyes.

"There was a big excavator machine just ripping those trees apart," he said. "Typical school board behavior."

A total of 12 old mahogany trees were removed to make room for the expansion of Fort Lauderdale High School. Klett called the mayor, who called the city manager, who had city code officer on the site quickly to halt the work.

"There a laws in the city of Fort Lauderdale that talk about the maintenance and preservation of trees. You just go chop down trees," said Jack Seiler, Fort Lauderdale Mayor.

Local 10 checked and discovered that the contractor did not file tree removal plans with the city; however, it did get a permit from Broward County which was approved last year. Two county certified arborist determined the 12 trees taken down were in poor condition and couldn't be relocated.

A school district spokesperson also points out that three big mahoganies were preserved and two others relocated. The district also plans to add 170 new trees to the property, including six new mahogany trees.

Klett still calls the school district bad neighbors and said the plan to replace the big trees crews cut down with small ones is little consolation.

"Yeah right, a whole lot of good that is going to do us for the next 50 years," Klett said.

The city of Fort Lauderdale said it's investigating why the contractor didn't file a tree removal plan and intends to "follow up to ensure the issue is addressed appropriately."

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