Councilman Andy Wilson referred to the destruction of the two palm trees in the iconic Twin Palms restaurant property on Green Street back in November as “a midnight massacre,” and insisted that the ordinance include trees on private property protected by the city.

In response to a rash of tree deaths, the City Council Tuesday voted to strengthen its tree protection ordinance, upping fines for illegal tree removal from $108 to as much as $10,000 per offense, plus the possibility of jail time.

By unanimous vote, the City Council directed the city attorney to draft a stricter ordinance that would charge anyone who removes a public tree without permission the assessed value of a mature tree, which can range from $1,500 for a 14-inch yew pine to $10,000 for a 21-inch holly oak.

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