James Island, South Carolina – In a situation with very limited land area left, the City of Charleston is considering to allow several grand trees removal on James Island after a request was sent to them.
According to multiple reports, there was a request to allow to removal of eight grand trees in the area of 1455 Folly Road and the City of Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals- Site Design held a meeting Wednesday to discuss the matter.
The board members discussed to allow the western part of the site to become a multi-building self-storage facility, while the east portion of the site to remain undeveloped, at least for now.
Also on James Island, there was a request for an “after-the-fact special exception” to allow the removal of one grand tree on Central Park Road. In other words, a grand tree has already been removed without a permit.
As per the City of Charleston current policy, “any tree 24 inches or greater in diameter at breast height excluding pine trees or Sweet gums are protected grand trees. On commercially zoned properties like apartment buildings and retail and industrial spaces, all trees that are 8 inches in diameter or greater are protected.”
“The growth that we’re experiencing, you know you’re not going to stop growth. It’s going to happen. We have limited land area left in the city corporate limits, we have certain zoning in place. We’re trying to meet a balance, but it’s a really tough thing day to day,” said Eric Schultz, principal planner for the zoning division of the Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability for the City of Charleston.
However, the local residents are not happy about a potential tree removal. The expansion of the city and corporate areas already took major part of the green areas, trees and parks in the past. The removal of additional trees means less space for outdoor activities which directly affects the mental health of the local community.
According to Schultz, he received numerous emails before the meeting from local residents concerned about the removal of the trees. One of them is James Island Resident Franny Henty who believes that the city leaders and the local community should do everything in their power to keep the green areas since they are part of locals’ lives.
“We need to protect these trees. We really do, because that’s a part of infrastructure. They really are,” Henty said.
Professor Phil Dustan, biology professor at the College of Charleston, says it’s time to start appreciating our trees, because they protect us. He said we’re experiencing a “slaughter” of forests in our area.
“Trees protect us from storms, they protect us from hurricanes, they protect us from flooding, they’re a necessary part of our infrastructure,” Dustan said.
The issue with keeping trees and green areas in the Charleston area becomes complicated task for everyone involved in the process because the city officials are under “tremendous” development pressure in the Charleston area, according to Shultz.
“We take trees very very seriously. It’s not like we’re allowing trees to come down willy-nilly,” Schultz said.