Woman chains herself to fence in effort to save trees

Ann Wiley says residents given no notice before company started taking out trees

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Parker Branton - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A woman chained herself to a fence Friday morning in protest of a new development in Fort Lauderdale.

Ann Wiley said she's lived in the city for 23 years and isn't planning on moving until something is done to save the trees in a green space along Southwest 20th Avenue.

"There was no notice. There were no signs. There was no information. There was no hearing. There was no neighborhood notice," Wiley told Local 10 News. "The people that live in Oak Hammocks, immediately to the east of this project, meaning 2 feet to the east of this project, had no notice. Their notice was they woke up to a backhoe in their porch. That was their notice."

Police arrived and asked Wiley to unchain herself, but she has yet to do so.

Area residents said the green space was home to trees more than 100 years old and served as a habitat for birds and other animals.

"This is a complete betrayal of our neighborhood," Wiley said.

A Fort Lauderdale police officer asks Ann Wiley to unchain herself from a fence.

The Lennar Corporation has contracted a company to start chopping down the trees to clear the way for a housing complex.

But the tree removal was temporarily halted because of a permitting issue.

"The issue right now is they have received a permit for some of the tree removal," Commissioner Ben Sorensen said. "That permit's not on site right now. So, as a result, they are not to have any tree removal without the permit being on site."

The message "Lennar ruins neighborhoods" is scribbled over a "no trespassing" sign on the fence to which Ann Wiley chained herself.

Sorensen said the city worked with the developer to protect some of the trees. They were enclosed by wooden fixtures.

Although it may be too late for this particular property, Sorensen offered residents some hope for the future.

Some trees were saved from being cut down.

"There's nothing that we can do right now under the law to really save them, and we're going to change that," Sorensen said.

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