The Mainland Planning Commission voted Thursday to recommend the Glynn County Commission adopt a new tree ordinance for St. Simons Island.

MPC members failed to either recommend approval or denial at its Tuesday meeting because only four commissioners were present, and county code requires at least four votes for any motion to pass.

MPC Chairman Gary Nevill said he couldn’t support the tree ordinance. He said it didn’t properly respect private property rights and some parts of it needed clarification and tweaking.

Neville opposed it again on Thursday in a 5-1 vote in favor of the ordinance. MPC member Gene Lee was absent.

Miriam Lancaster, chairwoman of the committee to create the new ordinance, covered the major changes to it since a joint meeting between the MPC and Islands Planning Commission in June.

Re-subdividing lots no longer requires a tree plan if it reduces lot density, demolishing a structure built over lot lines no longer requires a tree plan if a similar structure will replace it, permeable surfaces can be laid in designated open soil areas and tree protection measures must also be in place prior to any land disturbance activities, among other changes.

MPC member Tim Murphy, who also served on the tree ordinance committee, said the target of the ordinance was not average, single-family homeowners, but developers looking to bulldoze and build on large tracts of land.

If average homeowners were the problem, there wouldn’t be a tree canopy at all, he added.

The Islands Planning Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposed tree ordinance at its Tuesday meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. in Sea Palms Resort’s ballroom, 515 N. Windward Dr. on St. Simons Island.

The Glynn County Commission is scheduled to hold another public hearing on the ordinance at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.

The next regular MPC meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 7, also in the Old Glynn County Courthouse.

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