The Plaintiff’s neighbor had a stand of palms exceeding six feet tall that interfered with the view and air of the Plaintiff. The applicable Code requires that hedges that must be no higher than six feet tall, and comply with setback requirements. The landscaping ordinance did not define what a hedge was, but the county determined a hedge was made up of shrubs, not trees. Therefore, the Plaintiff filed suit to enforce code provisions against the neighbor. The trial court afforded deference to the county’s determination.
The Court affirmed, concluding that the lower court did not err in giving deference to the county, noting that “courts will not depart from such a construction unless it’s clearly unauthorized or erroneous.” The Court further noted that palms are mentioned in the Code under the provision for trees and that therefore the Court said that it was “within a range of permissible interpretations under the ordinance, even if we might disagree that this is the best interpretation of the ordinance as a whole.”
Pruitt v. Sands, 2102 WL 131722 (Fla. App. 4 Dist. 4/18/2102)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.4dca.org/opinions/April%202012/04-18-12/4D11-17.op.pdf