It sometimes seems like two things are required in Columbia County development: Every strip mall must have a nail salon; and every project starts with wiping out trees.
Seriously, though, the county's tree protection ordinances are a lot stronger than it would sometimes appear. While it might take a few years for newly planted trees to grow large enough to make it obvious, the county's rules are far more pro-tree than they once were.
A revision in those ordinances now is being reviewed, as a story today by Jenna Martin points out. And while it might sound anti-tree and purely pro-developer, the changes actually could greatly improve the appearance of new residential developments.
In essence, the new rules could allow more leeway to developers who want to knock down trees in a new subdivision before dividing up lots to sell to builders.
Why on earth would this be a good idea? Here's why. Typically, subdivisions are drawn up by the developer, who puts in roads and other infrastructure. The developer then sells individual lots to builders, who clear and grade their own lots, build the homes and sell them.
While this allows the trees to keep growing until a particular lot is built on, it also means individual builders tend to focus on one lot at a time without regard to how it matches up with the lot next door. This can get ugly: Ride through any number of subdivisions and you'll see yards that make abrupt drops from one to the next, or one home with beautiful trees next to another with stubby crape myrtles.
Allowing developers leeway to grade all the lots at one time certainly would help smooth out the choppy neighborhood topography. County officials also could use the option of allowing a clearcut as leverage to push for more trees in a development.
And more trees mean better neighborhoods - which should be the point of any development rules.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.