Trees cut down as part of a fire mitigation program to make St. Augustine Shores less vulnerable to wildfires: While it sounds like a good idea, the way it’s turning out has some homeowners saying there’s got to be a better way.
While the work has been stopped for now by the St. Johns County Environmental Division, it's unclear whether it will continue.
Some residents say the land used to be full of vegetation, and now it looks like a tree graveyard.
"I think it's been done poorly, but that's my opinion," resident Ronald Palmer said.
Palmer said he read about the program in the community's newsletter, which says the tree removal is part of the development's fire mitigation program. But Palmer says fires haven't really been an issue in the area.
"Where are all the animals and all the birds and all going?" he said. "And I think it's an unnecessary situation."
Palmer's not the only resident bothered by the project.
"At first I wasn't sure about it, but now that I've seen what they've done, I was afraid I would lose a lot of my privacy," resident Bryce Merritt said.
Residents say the neighborhood's numerous trees give it character.
"I'm hoping they keep it that way. I don't want to lose the woods there," Merritt said.
Neighbors also say the board wants to build parks where some of the cleared areas are, but residents say they aren't sure where that money will come from.
The project was halted Monday when residents went to the Environmental Division with their concerns.
"We stepped in and asked everyone to just take a pause, take a step back and review the ordinances that govern that property," said Michael Ryan, communications manager for St. Johns County.
Ryan said he hopes the county will have a better understanding to which direction the project is going by Friday.
A meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the clubhouse for any neighbors who want to attend to talk about the tree removal project.