Recent storm damage at Fernandina Beach Dog Park
Recent storm damage at Fernandina Beach Dog Park

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 5, 2014 6:10 a.m.

The City of Fernandina reminds us that we need permits to remove trees.  But in emergency situations, those permits can be obtained after the fact.  But as we all know, during storm season especially, emergencies that threaten lives and homes call for exceptions.  The city asks that in case of an emergency, property owners obtain an after-the-fact tree removal permit from the Community Development Department at City Hall or on-line at 
 Include photo documentation of the tree and the damage with the application.

This procedure includes removal of any tree damaged by disease, as certified by a registered arborist and trees damaged by fire or windstorm, lightning, or other acts of nature that pose an imminent danger to life or property. There is no fee for emergency tree removals. If you have any question, please call the City’s Planning Department at (904) 310-3135, option 1.

Protecting its trees is a strong value of the city, reflected in ordinances and procedures that detail under which circumstances trees may be legally removed.  The City’s tree protection requirements are found in Land Development Code:

  • No net loss of trees.
  • Placing structures and all impervious surfaces in such a way as to protect the survivability and substantial growth of the healthiest trees on a property.
  • Maintaining the diversity of tree species native to Amelia Island.
  • Protecting and maintaining the existing mature growth native trees important to the City’s tree canopy.
  • Preserving, enhancing and restoring the unique aesthetic character of the City.
  • Preserving, enhancing and restoring the natural environment through the protection and establishment of native trees and existing natural systems for the enjoyment of present and future populations.

Keep in mind that City’s tree protection and permitting requirements apply only to trees that are 5” (five inches) or greater in diameter at breast height measured 4 ½ feet from the base of the tree. Smaller diameter trees can be removed without a permit.  It is good business practice to deal only with licensed contractors.  While the city reminds us that they cannot recommend a contractor, they can tell you if the contractor is licensed to work in the city.  It is always a good idea to obtain the cost of all work in writing before the work is started and to make sure that the work statement clearly states the quantity of work that will be done, payment terms, and how debris removal will be handled.

Photo courtesy Amelia Island Convention Visitors Bureau
Photo courtesy Amelia Island Convention Visitors Bureau

For more information about the city’s tree management plan, urban forestry, and the benefits of trees, consult the city’s website:  There you will also be able to download appropriate forms and learn about penalties for violating the tree ordinance.

Suanne ThammEditor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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