Homeowner battles HOA to remove damaging tree 

Article and Video Courtesy of 

CBS 12 News -- West Palm Beach

By Israel Banderas

Published January 23, 2014

 Watch VIDEO


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla -- The City of West Palm Beach requires that developers plant a specific number of hardwood trees in a neighborhood when homes are built.
One common tree that's cheap and easy to put in the ground is the live oak tree.

But once it grows, its roots can wreak havoc on developed property.
It seems easy for someone to say, “Just remove the tree.”
But for West Palm Beach resident Mario Burbano, he says the difficulty has come from having to his homeowners association to do so.
“He looked at my pictures and said, ‘this is your tree?’” and I said, ‘Yes it is,’ said Burbano, as he recalled a conversation with his HOA on-site property manager. “And I'd like to have it removed.”


Last summer, the HOA management for the Sail Harbour townhome community got a permit from West Palm Beach to remove and replace 166 oak trees.
“In between every swale, there was a tree,” remembers Burbano. “So they removed every other tree because in those swales are the sewage system lines.”

But when Burbano asked that his tree be removed due to the inevitable damage the roots will cause to the property, he says the on-site property manager ignored his request.
“He pretty much laughed at my face.”
Burbano also has an email that warns him if he tried to remove the tree, 'the association will pursue all legal remedies available,' against him.
“The differences in my water bills in the last four months have gone up,” said Burbano.

That's because the live oak tree roots started causing water pipe damage.
To fix it, a plumber charged him $628.60 last week.
The roots are also creeping under the driveway which Burbano fears will be more costly down the road.
“Why I can’t remove it?” asked Burbano. “I tried to and I would have taken care of it myself, and at that point the said no.”
CBS 12 News took Burbano’s concerns to Kings Management Services, which is responsible for the Sail Harbour community.
Bruce King, its owner, didn't want to go on camera.
But in a conversation inside his office, King said it’s the City of West Palm Beach that heavily regulates how residential trees are maintained or removed.
It took Kings Management a year to get a permit to remove the live oak trees.
Burbano’s wasn’t included.
King assured CBS 12 that if Burbano goes to city planners and gets a tree removal permit for his house, the HOA will work with him.
This may resolve future problems for Burbano, however, “it doesn’t help the fact that out of pocket, I’ve had to pay almost $800 to $900 damages.”