A local landscape contractor says that she is at war with the entire city of Key West, over disputes with the city’s Tree Commission. Sandy Downs, owner of Tarzan Tree Care, is challenging the commission’s authority to govern how homeowners handle trees on private property.

Downs alleges that city officials are breaking Florida statutes through their handling of her case and others.  She was found to be in violation of the ordinances last month, for removal of one tree at a private residence, and trimming another at a different location.

She contends that the Tree Commission has converted rules which apply only to large development projects going through planning, and have used these rules against private homeowners and tree companies to collect exorbitant fines for violations.

Downs appeared before the Tree Commission several weeks ago, and presented her claim. A week later, the commission issued its findings, fining Downs $5,000 for the removed tree, and ordering her to hire an arborist to assess the other tree’s recovery.

Several local landscapers said that they agree with Downs’ assessments, but would not speak for fears of reprisal from city officials.