Seminole County commissioners expressed concerns about global banking giant JPMorgan Chase’s proposal to remove 88 large shade trees from an office parking lot off International Parkway to make way for dozens of solar panel canopies.
“I feel like this is sort of out of character with International Parkway,” Commissioner Amy Lockhart said. “It would be completely different from anything in that area…. Someone of that organization would have to pretty aggressively defend this request.”
The solar panels eventually would feed electrical power to the company’s three-story office building at 550 International Parkway in the Heathrow International Business Center, according to plans. Vehicles would be able to park underneath the solar canopies.
JPMorgan’s request was scheduled to be heard Tuesday, but company officials said they needed more time to work with Seminole staff to come up with a plan to compensate the county for removing so many trees — many more than 40 feet tall — from the shady area. The tree-removal request was delayed until Sept. 24.
JPMorgan officials said the trees need to be axed to set up solar panels as part of the company’s two-year initiative that all of its buildings in more than 60 countries to be completely dependent on renewable energy.
Commissioners lauded JPMorgan for developing such an earth-friendly plan. However, they said it may not be worth removing trees in such a scenic area to accomplish that goal.
“What happens if they feel in the future that it’s not profitable?” Commissioner Bob Dallari asked. “Does it just turn into a covered parking lot?”
JPMorgan submitted a similar application to the city of Lake Mary for its adjacent property at 600 Business Center Drive. That application calls for the removal of 62 trees for solar panel canopies in that lot.
That application will likely not be heard for several more weeks, city officials said.