Gingercake residents suggest tighter rules to quell ‘Treemageddon’

Gingercake residents suggest tighter rules to quell ‘Treemageddon’

When a front yard tree clearing project results in a pile of pines higher than your house, it may be expected that the neighbors will complain.

Apparently, pulp-wooders have been approaching residential land owners in the county and promising to remove trees at no costs, but some residents are reporting that the crews take the good trees, leave the smaller ones and generally leave a mess behind. Even if they promise to come back and clean up the site, these become broken promises, they say.

Residents in Fayette County’s unincorporated Gingercake Road corridor are now not only complaining to one another, but they have also taken their case to the county commission. Stricter tree ordinances are needed, they say, to stop homeowners from clear-cutting residential properties

In some cases, say residents, their neighbors have taken advantage of the tree cutting offers and have authorized as many as 350 trees to be removed from a single lot.

County Commission Chairman Steve Brown and County Manager Steve Rapson said Tuesday night they quickly sprung into action to try to squeeze out unsavory tree cutters when they learned of several untoward tree trimming transactions, but they say there is not much that can be done in a hurry to keep owners of smaller home sites from cutting down pretty much anything they’d like to see removed.

Commissioners did, however, unanimously vote to update its Code of Ordinances to include provisions allowing the county to more closely regulate tree cutters working as timber harvesters. In these cases, harvesters must notify the county of their specific intentions ahead of time, and they must complete paperwork determining appropriate taxation relative to the amount of timber harvested. The new laws also require harvesters to be bonded, and it spells out responsibilities and liabilities to do with damage and impedance to public assets such as streets and sidewalks.

While residents generally agreed the new ordinance is a good move in the right direction, several also told commissioners they expect to see stricter tree ordinances in the near future.

Brown, a former Peachtree City mayor, said he was sure the county would get even more complaints if they tried to float a tree ordinance as strict as Peachtree City’s. He said he felt a series of public hearings would be appropriate to gauge public support for tighter or looser tree ordinances.

A few miles away on the east side of Fayetteville, Knight Development several weeks ago ordered the clear-cutting of several acres of land along Hwy. 54 without city approval in a move Mayor Greg Clifton called “Treemageddon.” City officials say the property owner is now being penalized for the action, and they will be forced to mitigate the unsightly damage done to the local landscape.

Danny Harrison

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.