Trees are special in Beaufort County.
People move here because of the trees, for the special quality they lend to the landscape and the lifestyle. And many stay in large part, because of the trees (and the rivers and creeks, and the marshes, and the beaches).
Nonetheless, some developers prefer to cut trees down, clearing large tracts with abandon.
We’re making it more difficult. Ordinances in the City of Beaufort are pretty strict, making it generally difficult to clear-cut sites prior to building. And with a little urging, Beaufort County has been strengthing its tree ordinances. They aren’t strong enough yet, but they are getting there.
In the Town of Port Royal however, developers seem to rule. In a deal “negotiated” between the Town and developers some time ago, “tree mitigation fees” – the penalty for unselectively removing trees – are capped at $4,000. $4,000. No matter how large or small the tract. What this means is that, if the developer decided to do it, the 318 acres now under development in Port Royal as a result of the sale of the port, could be mowed down, clear-cut, with the penalty just $4,000. Doesn’t make sense.
Recently, Gordon Fritz, a member of the Sea Island Coalition’s policy committee, sat down with The Island News to discuss Port Royal’s backward-looking policies when it comes to trees.
“There are now three areas where the land has been stripped of 95 percent of the green cover to make room for apartment complexes”, says Fritz.
“If something is not done to curtail the uncontrolled and environmentally blind actions of those developers coming to our area to exploit and profit from the destruction of our environments, we will lose the very values that have attracted thousands of our fellow residents to our communities,” he said.
Click here to read more of what Fritz had to say on the subject in The Island News.
(photo courtesy The Island News)