The seeds have been planted for a tree ordinance in Columbia County.
A newly appointed Columbia County advisory committee met for the first time June 17 to look at plans for a comprehensive tree ordinance.
Jeff Browning has served as the director of planning and development for the county for the past 16 months and has helped to establish tree ordinances in other growing counties. The committee looked at some of the plans he helped establish in other counties as examples.
"The issue of tree protection was brought up at a commissioners' meeting, and the commissioners thought that it was important enough to form a tree ordinance. They also thought that it was important to get citizens' input on the issue," Browning said.
They formed a 10-member committee made up of representatives from the development, education and government communities. The committee will meet again July 15. The members include:
Steven Brown, a Columbia County planning commissioner, co-owner of Brown and Vizany Forestry consulting company and a candidate for the District 1 commissioner's seat. Brown has helped write tree ordinances for other counties. He's also been one of the most ardent supporters of Columbia County's developing an ordinance of its own.
"This is just part of the growth-management planning process (and) is a countywide issue," Brown said. "I think we have lacked in this area and this is something that a lot of people want to see improved."
Kendal Jones, a senior development representative with the Hull Storey Development Group in Augusta. She also served as the former planning and zoning director for Columbia County, bringing to the board both a regulatory and a developmental perspective.
Kathy Black, coordinator of the Columbia Creek Educational Forest who teaches classes about protecting the environment.
"As a forester, it is important to me to see trees saved in urban areas," Black said. "Most people think that foresters are interested in cutting down trees but we are interested in planning for the future."
Vickie Hallden, an employee at the Medical College of Georgia who has also served on the Columbia County Planning Commission.
"I think there needs to be a concrete ordinance so we don't clear-cut every tree in the county," Hallden said.
Oliver Owens, who served for eight years on the planning and zoning board for Columbia County. Owens helped form one of the first growth-management plans for Georgia and has worked for more than 30 years in banking.
George Snelling, a retired dentist.
Charles Phillips, of the University of Georgia and Columbia County Extension Service.Jim Hillis, manager of Lakeside Lawn Care Service.
Ernie Blackburn, president of the E. Blackburn Construction Co. Blackburn is also the man primarily responsible for the creation of Columbia County's Clean & Beautiful Committee.
"I am a concerned citizen and I want (the county) to be able to retain the trees that we have," Blackburn said. "We also want to develop a plan that will be as fair as possible to everyone."
Bill Beazley, who has experience in real estate.
"I work in land developing, homebuilding and in real estate and, despite what the critics may say, we are pro-environmental. Trees add value to property," Beazley said. "I think that we will soon have a tree ordinance that will be something good for Columbia County (and) will lead to a greener and better environment."
After the committee completes a draft of the ordinance, it will be passed on to the board of commissioners for approval. The group hopes to have an ordinance by September.
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