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Murrells Inlet: Less shade and 5 less oaks at development

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

All oaks are not equal under the Georgetown County tree ordinance.

Residents of Murrells Inlet called county officials last week to alert them that five big live oaks were being cut at the corner of Business 17 and Melton Avenue. County planning director Boyd Johnson said Coastal Ventures of Murrells Inlet had a permit to cut the trees in order to build two buildings with five townhouses each. “Oddly enough,” Johnson said, “it’s being called Shady Oaks. While it is unfortunate, it is legal.”

Developers agreed to plant five Southern magnolias in the oak trees’ place. “If you’re young enough,” Johnson said, “you’ll see the magnolias.”

The 2.5-acre parcel is zoned high density residential. “That’s about the highest density you can get,” Johnson said. “There are not many of those parcels, but it’s all zoned and ready to go.” There is a second phase with four buildings that will require design approval from the Georgetown County Planning Commission.

The area designated for Phase 2 has a number of live oaks — some are as large as 60 inches in diameter — that developers intend to preserve, Johnson said.

Changes to the county tree ordinance more than five years ago lifted limited restrictions in place for residential development. Businesses have a much tougher time getting permission to cut trees.

Murrells Inlet residents also called Johnson’s office last week when trees were being cut near the Dead Dog Saloon. Owner Charlie Campbell had received a permit to remove the trees after hiring an arborist to attest they were diseased.

The developers of Shady Oaks, south of the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire Department, could have removed more live oaks for a single-family residential development.

“This doesn’t make anybody feel better,” Johnson said, “but you could have put a road in there with single-family lots that would have required more trees to be cut.”

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