The committee assembled to create a new tree ordinance, which would only apply to St. Simons Island, will be meeting on Tuesday to resume the task after the Glynn County Commission decided not to adopt the ordinance at a meeting on May 5.
It took the committee roughly two years to create the ordinance that was being considered, hearing from developers and arborists along the way, among others. Multiple town halls and commission meetings were held to get input from the public and county officials during that time.
Despite that, the Islands Planning Commission saw fit to recommend that the proposed amendment be sent back to the drawing board, and that the committee be expanded to include a wider range of county residents. The county commission agreed with the IPC’s recommendation, making the final decision to have the ordinance sent back to the committee for tweaking and refinement.
Stan Humphries and Miriam Lancaster, members of the original committee, spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance at the May 5 meeting, saying that it was a good compromise that all members of the committee approved of, which included developers and tree preservation advocates.
The ordinance, which was designed to guarantee preservation of at least 50 percent of the island’s tree canopy, was tougher in some areas and more forgiving in others when compared to the tree ordinance currently in place.
It would not have applied to residential lots smaller than one acre, lots used for agriculture or silviculture purposes or county property, among others. All other lots would have a restriction imposed disallowing them from using a quarter of their property for anything other than the growth of trees. Under the proposed ordinance, that requirement could be fulfilled with off-site planting in some cases.
It would also have changed the tree plan review process so that the Tree Advisory Board could have a larger role. In addition, the ordinance would have created a county arborist position and a system for the designation of “heritage trees,” which the owner would not be allowed to cut down at all, unless the designation was removed by the tree board.
It also allowed for a wider range of penalties for violations of the ordinance, including stop-work orders, revocation of tree plans or permits and revocation of certificates of occupancy, among others.
The committee is what is called a chairman’s committee, meaning all members are appointed by the county commission’s chairman. In this case, Bill Brunson.
The tree ordinance committee meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Harold Pate Courthouse Annex, 1725 Reynolds St. in Brunswick.