NStrees120719

NORTH PORT — Tuesday’s City Commission meeting could have some fiery moments.

On the agenda for the 10 a.m. meeting is a proposal to merge the city’s Beautification and Tree/Scenic Highway Committee with the city’s Environmental Advisory Board. It’s a second reading that needs commission approval to adopt it.

City official say they are struggling to find volunteers to sit on advisory boards. The Beautification and Tree/Scenic Highway Committee often fails to meet due to a shortage of members.

The Beautification and Tree/Scenic Highway Committee is supposed to reflect the city’s Unified Land Development Code to watchdog the loss, preservation and overall impact of trees. There are pages of rules and instructions for the management of city trees, from growth, maintenance, cutting and replacements. The committee is staffed by termed volunteers.

But because there’s a shortage of volunteers for the Beautification and Tree/Scenic Highway Committee, as well as others, the city would combine it with the Environmental Advisory Board. That committee advises the city on ways to protect, conserve, enhance and raise public awareness of the city’s natural and environmental resources, its wildlife habitat, its flora and fauna, and on safeguarding environmental quality for the future, according to a summary posted on the city’s website.

But Alice White, a former board member with the Beautification and Tree/Scenic Highway Committee and founder and chair of People for Trees Inc., said the city’s dissolution of the committee is a “really big issue,” noting that an advisory group solely for trees is important.

“There’s something else going on here,” she said.

But combining two advisory boards is about better management of resources, said Vice Mayor Jill Luke. The Beautification and Tree/Scenic Highway Committee was often short of a quorum, or the minimum of members to vote or approve recommendations to city commissioners.

Luke understood White’s frustration, or anyone else’s, but “we are not turning our backs on tree protection,” she said. “The (Tree Board) got down to one person at one point.”

The commission will also review the master plan for Phase 1 of the Woodlands.

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