JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - This past June, Jason Kelly and his family purchased a home in the San Jose area. The homes in his neighborhood back up to a tributary connected to Christopher Creek.
"Our property officially ends right here, not at the creek," Kelly said.
During Hurricane Irma, however, one of the oak trees in the space between where he says his property ends and the creek begins was pushed against another, and partially uprooted.
"It is a right of way on paper, but as far as maintenance goes I am being told it is my responsibility," Kelly said.
At issue a very large oak tree that is in the city's right of way, but it is leaning in the wrong direction
"The big oak tree is leaning at a 42-degree angle," he said. "We measured it and it is right over the house at the master bedroom."
The impending danger pushed Kelly to take his case to social media in a three-minute video.
The area is protected from development; it is called a natural run.
While the tree in question is directly in the middle of it, it appears that natural runs are not maintained by municipalities.
"It surprised me," he said.
Ironically, a few months earlier, the city's code enforcement cited him for the condition of a pine tree he had in his front yard. He had to remove it.
"They can force my hand to take the tree down on my property, but they won't hold themselves to their own standard to take their own tree down," Kelly said.
Kelly wants the city to remove the oak tree so he can have peace of mind.
"It is their land, it is their responsibility," he said.
He's afraid that it is only a matter of time before his fears become reality.
"I don't think it is [an] 'if' [it falls]," Kelly said. "I think it is going to be when it falls."
Property Appraiser Jerry Holland confirmed there is an easement on Kelly's property.
However, it appears the city is in a strong position for its denial.
"Our involvement within these natural run areas is limited to removal of a blockage that would adversely impact the City's drainage system," wrote John Pappas, the public works director.
Urban Forest Manager Richard Leon also took a look at the tree and concluded: "...we would not be responsible for the tree as everything in the area is natural and not man made."
Real Estate Attorney Barry Ansbacher said he used to live in the area and it may be jurisdictional wetlands, which are regulated by the state.
Kelly can file his concerns with the state but may end up with the same result.
"Trees belong to God and you don't have an affirmative responsibility to do anything," Ansbacher said.
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