The BML INSIDER Column

posted by Bill Mick -


I purchased my home a couple of years ago. It is an end unit with much foliage between my property (5 or so feet beyond my outside walls) and the property line (15-25 feet of common property area) where the common property is bordered by a wooden fence. 

When I moved in, maintenance on the trees between the townhouse and the property line had been neglected for years. Property committee members told me that the previous owner preferred the trees be left to grow, untrimmed. Some limbs made it difficult to walk the area near my home. Others were/are hanging well across the fence line over neighboring properties. They were not happy when I trimmed some of the trees on my own in order to safely navigate the area around my home, but took no action other than to complain to me. Yet, the previous owner could circumvent the rules and huge safety concerns because he liked the jungle?

Repeated requests to have the maintenance done were met with answers indicating this was a scheduled item each fall. Two falls passed and no maintenance was done. 

We had two hurricanes pass by these last two years with significant tree damage from the first of these storms (Matthew). 

Subsequent to that storm the lawn care contractor finally began cleaning up the common area from routine (and heavy) tree debris that had been ignored, not to mention a fire hazard, for years. I had been told I could clean it up if I wanted as long as I did no trimming. This, a service the HOA pays well for in order that a large company performs it. Why would I do this when my HOA dues are paying for it?

The kicker: 

Last week I happened to be sitting on the back porch when I heard the crackling of a fire and smelled smoke. I looked up to see a fire in the middle of the trunk of a tall palm tree within a foot of the fence bordering the property. 

Seeing no flaming arrow, there was no obvious attack by natives or neighbors. My shoes, already off, there was no voice from the Lord directing me that this was holy ground, and that I should be fearful and attentive, I called 9-1-1 and then began taking steps to extinguish the fire myself, for if that fire reached the fence, the entire neighborhood would be in danger. 

This was accomplished with a garden hose and I met my neighbor from across the fence as he was also making efforts at dousing the flames. Our efforts were successful. 

The IHBVFD responded and examined the likely cause of the fire. Apparently the palm tree had come in contact with power lines above the fence and electricity had traveled down the tree exiting at the spot where the fire began. 

The HOA had looked at trimming these trees a couple of months ago, but stated it was now up to FPL to trim since the trees were into the power lines. This appears to me to be a fight over who pays for the trimming, as both the HOA and FPL hire this work done by a contractor. After all, had the HOA done its job and trimmed the tress on time, would they have attained the heights of responsibility for FPL?

Had the neighbor and I not observed the fire and taken action, the fire could have easily spread to the fence and thereby other trees and our homes. While the Lord may not have been speaking to us, he was certainly looking out for us. 

The question now is: how do we get the HOA to do the same thing since we pay monthly fees for them to do just that?

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