#Local Government
St. Johns County, FL, Governmental Officials
United States of America

southern magnolia blossom


In November 2011, the Environmental Division of St. John County, FL, proposed modifications to the Land Development Code. The proposed changes can be viewed at:


While many of the changes dealing with planting standards for trees represent an improvement over the current code, the requirements for tree density (expressed as tree-inches) are inadequate. Specifically Section 4.01.05.F of Article IV dealing with tree-inch requirements for permits for new residential construction or new residential buildings on lots reduces the required number to half. We believe this number is inappropriate and does not take into consideration the varying amounts of permeable land among zones of different densities (R2, R2, R3). We believe the new standard should be research-based and provide for optimum benefit from landscaping utilizing trees.

This petition requests that the 2011 proposed amendments to the Land Development Code (LDC) be modified to reflect research-based findings regarding tree usage in residential lots and developments. We believe the proposed standard of 40 tree-inches per acre is inappropriate and not flexible enough to provide adequate tree cover for a full spectrum of residential properties of varying densities. In cases where the standard is not met, penalties or mitigations should be invoked. We also believe that the LDC should promote the use of wind-resistant and native species.

Thanks for signing the other petition, to continue protections for the Red Cedar in the Land Development Code We've been told by the County that the protections will be reinstated. If you still want to sign as a symbolic gesture, you are free to do so.

Petition: We the undersigned residents of St. Johns County, FL, request that the proposed amendments be modified as listed below:

1. We request the following change in Section 4.01.05 -. Trees and Other Vegetation. Promote the use of wind-resistant trees by adding this phrase to Section 4.01.05.E.1. (Note 8 in LDC amendments):
“... and wind-resistance described in University of Florida, IFAS Publication ENH1036, "Assessing Damage and Restoring Trees After a Hurricane,” located at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP29100.pdf.

2. The “proposed standard” in Section 4.01.05.F subsections 1.b and 1.c would unilaterally decrease the required number of tree-inches-per acre for new residential lots and developments to a single 40-inch requirement. This single-standard number is inappropriate. It should be changed to provide a more appropriate and responsive standard (a “new standard”) for tree quantities existing after construction. The “new standard” should be based on research findings of respected and impartial organizations such as the University of Florida, and would provide incentives for proper use of wind-resistant and native trees, and provide mitigations for failure to attain the standard.

3. We further request that Section 12.01.00 – Definitions, in the LDC contain additional definitions to enhance understanding of Florida-Friendly landscaping.

a) Remove the term “xeriscaping” from the definitions. Xeriscaping is not synonymous with Florida Friendly and should not be presented in that fashion.

b) Modify the definition of Florida Friendly to reflect the definition in Florida Statutes section 373.185 (adopted in 2009 in Senate Bill 2080):
Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ - quality landscapes that conserve water, protect the environment, are adaptable to local conditions, and are drought tolerant. The principles of such landscaping include planting the right plant in the right place, efficient watering, appropriate fertilization, mulching, attraction of wildlife, responsible management of yard pests, recycling yard waste, reduction of stormwater runoff, and waterfront protection. Additional components include practices such as landscape planning and design, soil analysis, the appropriate use of solid waste compost, minimizing the use of irrigation, and proper maintenance."

c) Add definition: Native plant - Florida statute 5B-40.00: "A plant species that is presumed to have been present in Florida before European contact."

The Revise the Land Development Code Proposal for Trees in New SJC Developments petition to St. Johns County, FL, Governmental Officials was written by Dianne Battle and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.