The last Noel: City fells local landmark

The Christmas tree at the 2012 Black Friday celebration. Photo available for purchase

The Christmas tree at the 2012 Black Friday celebration.

Lois Swoboda
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 10:30 AM.

An Apalachicola landmark vanished recently and some people are wondering why.

On Tuesday morning, April 8, workers with chainsaws leveled the community Christmas tree and by lunchtime, the tree was gone.

Jim Bachrach, Main Street president and a member of Planning and Zoning, was on site and fronted questions during the removal.

Bachrach said the tree was removed because it interfered with the in-ground irrigation system and an electrical box located within the tree’s canopy was creating a fire hazard. He said a better tree would be installed to replace it.

In his blog, Mayor Van Johnson wrote on the subject, and said “at close inspection it was revealed the tree was diseased and its large shallow root system was beginning to undermine the newly installed reuse irrigation system that services the park.”

The mayor noted that in the city’s ordinance 2011-01, “cedar trees are not patriarch nor protected trees and this particular one definitely was not historic. In fact, its removal followed the procedure as outlined in the ordinance for a danger/safety situation.”

According to Samuel Hand, Jr., an associate professor of agricultural sciences at Florida A & M University , the tree was a native juniper, probably Juniperus Virginia , which is sometimes colloquially referred to as a cedar. The city ordinance lists junipers as a protected native species. On the request for removal, Code Enforcement Officer Wilbur Bellew identified the tree as “cedar or some similar type of Christmas tree.”

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