Homeowners Rage Against HOA’s Radical Proposal

Very few of the 103 families in the Greenfield subdivision at the intersection of Wilkinson Road and Honore Avenue show up for the monthly HOA meetings. Since constructing their house in 1994, Desiree Moulton and Roger Metz have gone to very few association meetings. At the end of February, they found out that the “maintenance” of the subdivision’s perimeter retaining wall that was referenced in the minutes would include something much more substantial: the HOA had planned to cut down 37 old oak trees, the most of which were planted over 30 years earlier, by the developer himself. The cost of chopping them down to stumps was $70,000, with a portion of that sum to be covered by a special levy that all residents would have to pay.

In February, homeowners in Sarasota, Florida, learned that their HOA had plans to cut down 37 old oak trees from their yards to save a wall. This homeowners association (HOA) is in charge of Greenfield, a neighborhood of 103 homes built over 30 years ago. The Greenfield HOA claims that the roots of the oak trees destroyed the wall. But Moulton and Metz, the homeowners, argued otherwise. A vehicle accident from many years ago caused a fissure in their wall. Pictures taken two years ago showed that the fissure had remained unchanged for at least that long.

According to the Greenfield HOA, not one, not two, but five certified arborists had determined that the trees were to blame for the destruction. Instead of providing residents with the purported arborists’ findings, the HOA levied a special charge for the $70,000 tree removal. Cutting down the trees will ruin Moulton and Metz’s land for good. They used to be able to escape the heat of Florida days in the cool shade of their two oak trees in the backyard. Like other trees, they helped clean the air and gave animals a place to live by providing them food and shelter.

If the HOA cut down the trees, Moulton said he would sue them. Altering the covenants of the HOA is another potential option. Thankfully, these kinds of well-established trees are protected by legislation. According to an independent arborist and the Sarasota County municipal ordinance, their age and size make them “Grand Trees,” which need a permit or the owner’s consent to remove.

April was supposed to be the start of the work.