GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- A proposed Greenville tree ordinance would require developers to replace the trees they remove in the city. It passed a first reading in City Council Monday.
The City of Greenville’s senior landscape architect Edward Kinney said the city’s trees have been disappearing for years.
“We’ve lost over 33 million square feet of canopy since we started taking recorded photos in 2001,” he said.
He said development is the primary driver.
“There’s really no reason for us to assume that the decline wouldn’t continue the way that it has for the past ten or 20 years unless we do something to substantially halt its decline,” Kinney said.
Nearly two years ago, council asked staff to look into the problem. After feedback and fine tuning, they came up with a plan to keep Greenville green.
“What the ordinance proposes is that for every tree that is cut down, an equal number of trees have to be planted back in order to replace the total diameter, the total size of the trunk,” Kinney said.
One developer told 7News it’s important for tree ordinances to have flexibility– Greenville’s proposal allows developers to pay the city to plant a tree for them, which means the new trees don’t have to go on the same property.
“In time, this will slow down the decline of our canopy and in fact, regrow it,” Kinney said.
He said it costs about 150 dollars for replacement tree, like you’d pick up at a nursery. The proposed changes wouldn’t apply to current homeowners.
“But it will apply to any homeowner who purchases after June 30 of this year, 2021, and the only part of it that will apply is for the preservation of heritage trees,” Kinney said. Heritage trees are those raelly really big monster trees…they have great community value.”
According to Kinney, City council is set to vote on this for a second and final reading in two weeks.
The city has committed to planting 1,000 trees every year in its parks and the public right-of-way.