I was interested in reading about the live oak on Maybank Highway that the Department of Transportation threatened to remove, and wanted to let Charlestonians know that there are many other trees throughout the city that are being removed seemingly to make the developers’ jobs easier.
A recent example of this is three tree removals on the north side of Charlotte Street by the old Federal Building. One of the trees was quite remarkable, with burls running several feet from the tree.
Since the tree was on city property, I called to learn why on earth officials could allow this beautiful tree to be destroyed. I was advised that the fate of this tree, and the others, was determined six years ago when the city gave approval for the developer to remove them. The logic was that water oaks like these have an effective life of only 70 years, were therefore getting ready to die, and might be a hazard. So by letting the developer remove the trees the city saved money. Lucky for us there was a recession and so we got to enjoy these trees for six more years.
If we give developers approval to remove every tree that they and officials deem have exceeded their lifetime, or if we allow the city to determine that every burled tree in the city is dying and should be removed, the results will be catastrophic. DOT did not approve these tree removals, our city officials did.
In my view, it is bad enough that we have no say over the public utilities’ slaughter of so many trees in our city.
I implore everyone to pay attention and be proactive in saving our tree-lined downtown streets. At the very least, if a developer is allowed to remove an ancient tree with a huge circumference, he should have to replace it after his work is done.