Glynn County’s effort to revamp its tree ordinance has been ongoing since 2015, but in the nearly eight months since the tree ordinance committee’s last meeting on the subject, Glynn County hasn’t produced a draft of a revised tree ordinance for St. Simons Island.
On Friday, Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy, who represents the island, said he is “terminally frustrated by the pace of progress.”
At a meeting in May 2017, the county commission rejected a tree ordinance amendment, voting to send it back to the drawing board 5-2. At the time, Commissioner Mark Stambaugh said it would kill small, start-up businesses. Fellow Commissioner Mike Browning said it was nothing more than a weapon to use against developers.
While the Mainland Planning Commission recommended the county commission approve the amendment, its St. Simons Island counterpart, the Islands Planning Commission, recommended it be sent back to the tree ordinance committee for further revisions.
Islands Planning Commission members and the general public raised concerns with it. Joel Willis, a member of the IPC and the tree ordinance committee, said it gave developers too much leeway. The draft amendment made cutting down a tree in violation of the ordinance a misdemeanor, a point with which Desiree Watson, chairwoman of the IPC at the time, took issue.
The committee last met in August 2017. A September meeting was canceled due to Hurricane Irma’s visit to the Golden Isles. No meetings have been held on the matter since then.
“It is beyond my understanding why we haven’t seen a tree ordinance yet,” Murphy said. “I have no idea why that hasn’t worked out. It’s a complete mystery to me, and it bothers me and I don’t know what else I can do.”
Murphy said he was under the impression tree ordinance committee members Miriam Lancaster and Cesar Rodriguez were going to work with Senior Assistant County Attorney Will Worley on the draft. Lancaster did not comment, instead deferring to the county.
Rodriguez did not have time Friday to comment at length but said in an email that progress was being made on an ordinance amendment.
Worley did not return a request for comment Friday. When asked on several occasions over the last eight months, Worley’s only comment on the matter has been that he is still working on an updated draft.
Having to wait for the ordinance for as long as he has has been frustrating, Murphy said.
“They’ve got a committee, I can’t go down there and write it for them,” Murphy said.