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Environment: POA group backs residential tree protection

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The Waccamaw Neck Council of Property Owners Associations wants Georgetown County Council to restore tree protection rules on single family residential properties.

The group, which represents nearly 50 property owners associations on the Neck, sent out an e-mail last week stating its support for strengthening tree protection rules. It has since shared its position with other groups that board members believe have an interest in tree protection, including the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters and the Litchfield Corridor Beautification Committee.

“We intend to work with other organizations sharing this opinion to see that the ordinance is amended before any further damage can be done,” said Bo Long, president of the group.

The group’s statement was in response to complaints it received from homeowners in member associations. County Council removed limited tree restrictions in place for single family residential properties a year ago, but despite media coverage the change went largely unnoticed until last month when a 200-year-old live oak was cut down in Murrells Inlet, reportedly to make way for a swimming pool.

The tree’s removal left some residents outraged.

When complaints started to roll in, “we felt like we should stand up representing them,” Long said. “We’re representing all of the POAs on the Neck. What their wishes are is what we try to abide by.”

The group received a few comments from people who agree with council’s action in removing tree protection rules in favor of property owners rights, but “we had to choose an opinion and the majority won out,” Long said. “People didn’t like that trees were cut down and we side with that. We don’t believe all the trees should be cut down either.”

While the group didn’t poll individual property owners associations for their positions on whether tree protection rules should be restored, “this is in line with a long held opinion of the organization,” board secretary Mike Diem said of the group’s action.

Groups including the League of Women Voters and Preserve Murrells Inlet had already started talking about taking action to try to get rules restored after the live oak in Murrells Inlet was cut.

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