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Police to Halt Citrus Tree Cutting in South Miami

Disease: Eradication program won't be allowed to proceed until state officials uphold a deal that pacifies homeowners' concerns, mayor says.

November 01, 2000|From Associated Press

MIAMI — Police will stop citrus canker eradication crews from cutting down trees in South Miami until state officials live up to their end of a deal designed to quell the concerns of angry homeowners, the town's mayor said Tuesday.

Crews have been cutting down citrus trees in people's yards to stamp out the bacterial infection that threatens central Florida's $8.5-billion citrus industry.

So far, 830,000 trees have been cut down and burned, and 100,000 more are to be destroyed in the next month.

But the efforts hit a snag when attorneys for South Miami and the city of Pinecrest filed a lawsuit 10 days ago demanding that the cutting crews be friendlier to homeowners.

Last week, the state agreed during a two-day hiatus to provide the towns with maps and diagnostic reports of infected trees, hold a news conference and run a full-page ad in the Miami Herald explaining the details of the agreement. Both sides agreed to drop the lawsuit.

But South Miami Mayor Julio Robaina said agriculture department officials have yet to provide any maps or reports and have not held the promised news conference.

"Once they provide us with what they agreed to, then we will allow them to continue cutting down infected trees," Robaina said.

Canker eradication program spokesman Mark Fagan said that crews "aren't going to be working in those areas" and that workers "are holding off pending what attorneys say."

In Broward County, eradication efforts have also been suspended pending court hearings on a judge's order Friday for a temporary halt of tree cutting. A hearing is set for Thursday.

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