The short title of this Section is “the Tree Canopy Preservation Ordinance.” Trees provide many environmental, social, and economic benefits. Trees clean the air by absorbing air pollutants and releasing oxygen, reduce storm water runoff and erosion, temper climate, can save energy, create wildlife habitat, provide a visual and physical buffer, provide aesthetic enhancements and contribute to the overall value of real estate. St. Simons Island in particular is recognized and renowned for its tree canopy; especially the mature Southern Live Oaks. Therefore, Glynn County deems it necessary and desirable in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare to enact an ordinance for the primary purpose of the conservation and preservation of trees and for the secondary purposes of planting and replacement of trees, and to prevent the indiscriminate removal of trees on St. Simons Island without denying the reasonable use and enjoyment of property.
101.1 Applicability, Exemptions, and Nonconforming Commercial Developments.
A. Applicability. It is the goal of Glynn County to achieve and maintain a tree canopy cover of at least 50% on St. Simons Island and to promote the functional distribution of that canopy throughout St. Simons Island. Compliance with the tree canopy cover requirement is achieved by requiring an approved Tree Plan for applicable sites. Applicable sites that are subject to the provisions of the Tree Canopy Preservation Ordinance are property on St. Simons Island:
- zoned for any commercial or industrial use (including Planned Development) where development occurs for which a site plan, preliminary plat, expedited subdivision, or land disturbance permit is required;
- zoned for residential use (including, but not limited to, mixed use, Forest Agricultural, Resort Residential, and Planned Development) where development occurs for which a site plan, preliminary plat, or land disturbance permit is required;
- prior to clearing property or permitting the clearing of property zoned commercial;
- prior to clearing property or permitting the clearing of property zoned residential if such residential property is one acre or larger in area;
- located in the Village Preservation District where a demolition permit is sought or where development occurs for which a site plan is required; and
- where a demolition permit is sought for a building built on, or across, the common lot line(s) of two or more contiguous substandard lots of record. Provided, however, this Section shall not apply if a consolidation plat reducing the number of substandard lots is submitted along with the application for a demolition permit.
B. Exemptions. The following shall be exempt from compliance with the requirements of this Section:
- Single family residential standard lots of record appearing on a preliminary plat or final plat approved prior to adoption of this Section. This exemption shall not apply to preliminary plats that are void pursuant to Section 704 of the Glynn County Subdivision Regulations;
- Building permits for single family residential property; provided, however that any property located in a subdivision with an approved Tree Plan must abide by the terms of the approved Tree Plan;
- Building permits that do not require site plan approval;
- Building permits and site plans for existing structures wherein the owner certifies that no trees preserved or planted for tree canopy credit pursuant to any approved Tree Plan will be removed and that no improvements will be placed within the tree protection zone of any tree preserved or planted for tree canopy credit pursuant to any approved Tree Plan;
- The portions of golf courses dedicated to playing the game of golf, including out-of-bounds areas and wooded areas between fairways and greens. The portions of a golf course used for clubhouses, pro shops, and other similar structures shall not be exempt;
- The removal of trees on public rights-of-ways (and adjacent areas within the construction limits of rights-of-ways) conducted by, on behalf of, or any activity pursuant to work to be dedicated to, a federal, state, county, municipal or other governmental agency in pursuance of its lawful activities or functions in the construction or improvement of public rights-of-way and the removal or trimming of trees by, or on behalf of, a utility company for the purpose of providing clearance for utility lines. Glynn County trees shall be trimmed in accordance with the requirements of Section 2-16-307 of the Glynn County Code of Ordinances. Trees on public rights-of-way and other Glynn County property are governed by the provisions of Section 2-16-301 et. seq. of the Glynn County Code of Ordinances;
- The removal of any tree which, in the opinion of the County Arborist, is a danger to human life or property. Provided, however, that such tree must be replaced if the removal of the tree results in the property falling below the minimum tree canopy required pursuant to any approved Tree Plan;
- During the period of any declared state of emergency the requirements of this Section may be waived by the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners or, in the absence of the Chairman, the County Manager. Trees removed or lost during the declared state of emergency must be replaced if the property would fall below the minimum tree canopy requirement absent replacement;
- Airport property at the McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport;
- The removal, cutting, or trimming of trees which penetrate, or have the potential to penetrate, aircraft navigation surfaces including, but not limited to: approach, departure, conical, transitional, horizontal, instrument approach, instrument departure surfaces, or any other civil airport imaginary surface required by the Federal Aviation Administration;
- Land zoned and primarily used for agriculture or silvaculture;
- Plant or tree nurseries or tree farms only in relation to those trees which are planted and growing for sale or intended for sale to the general public in the ordinary course of business; and
- The removal of trees from lakes, detention ponds, or drainage easements.
C. Nonconforming Commercial Development. A lawfully existing commercial development that becomes nonconforming as a result of adoption of this Section, or any amendment thereto, shall be considered a nonconforming commercial development for the purposes of this Section. It is recognized that strict compliance with the provisions of this Section may be difficult for nonconforming commercial developments. The following exceptions apply to nonconforming commercial developments:
- Alterations to a building or structure, other than those necessitated by an act of God, that require site plan approval, while still requiring an approved Tree Plan, shall only be required to comply with the open soil area requirements of this Section to the extent feasible and practical. This exception shall not apply if the alteration involves changes to 50% or more of the development area of a site; or
- Buildings or structures damaged or destroyed by fire, flood, storm, or other act of God may be repaired or rebuilt without an approved Tree Plan and without meeting the open soil area requirements of this Section if: (i) the owner provides documentation to the Community Development Director demonstrating that the commercial development lawfully existed at the time of adoption of the tree canopy requirement(s) herein; (ii) repair or reconstruction commences within two (2) years from the date it was damaged or destroyed; and (iii) the nonconforming development retains or restores and maintains any tree canopy that existed prior to such damage or destruction.Provided, however, that if other requirements reduce the amount of development area utilized for structures, parking, or impermeable surfaces; then such resulting area shall be used to provide open soil area for the growth and maintenance of trees.
D. Permits issued, plats approved, and site plans approved prior to the adoption of this Section shall not be required to comply with the provisions of this Section unless redevelopment or changes are proposed which would require site plan approval, would require an approved preliminary plat or a new permit, or unless such permit or approval has expired by operation of law or under the terms of the Zoning Ordinance or the Subdivision Regulations.
101.2 Tree Canopy Requirements.
A. The Tree Canopy Preservation Ordinance requires that all applicable sites maintain a minimum tree canopy. Maintenance of the tree canopy is achieved on applicable sites by (1) requiring that at least 25% of the development area after development be retained as open soil area dedicated to the growth and maintenance of trees and (2) maintaining a minimum tree density of 12 Large Canopy Trees per acre of development area. These requirements must be met whether or not the property had trees prior to development. Open soil areas may be planted with shrubs, groundcover, other plant materials, or mulched but no impervious surfaces will be allowed. The process for calculating the tree canopy requirement for property can be found in Appendix “A”.
B. Area is measured in square feet. The minimum open soil area shall be calculated by dividing the development area of the property by four.
C. As detailed in 624.6, Glynn County trees whose structural root zones extend onto applicable sites shall be preserved and the property owner shall receive tree canopy credit for the open soil area located on its property dedicated to the growth and maintenance of the tree.
D. The area of tree canopy for which credit is given shall always remain as open soil area dedicated to the growth and maintenance of trees and there shall be no other use of the area other than for tree growth. The area shall remain permeable, open soil as required by this Section.
E. The tree density requirement may be achieved by preserving existing trees, planting new trees, or some combination of both.
F. Any tree to be preserved or planted for tree canopy credit within any civil airport imaginary surface required by the Federal Aviation Administration including, but not limited to, approach, departure, conical, transitional, horizontal, instrument approach, or instrument departure surfaces, shall not be of a size or species that would penetrate these imaginary surfaces at the general mature height of the tree. Additionally, in accordance with Section 1305 of the Zoning Ordinance, a property owner shall not allow a tree to grow to a height in excess of the height limitations established in Article XIII.
G. For preliminary plats, expedited subdivisions, and demolition permits for substandard lots of record without a consolidation plat, the tree canopy requirement shall be calculated based upon the overall site and not individual lots. A Tree Plan approved in conjunction with a preliminary plat, expedited subdivision, or demolition permit for substandard lots of record without a consolidation plat shall be binding upon, and applicable to, the owners of the resulting lots.
H. The tree canopy cover should be distributed throughout the site or lot. Accordingly, trees may be placed in parking lots, in setbacks, in buffers, in common areas, within the side, front, and rear yards of the lot, and on the earthen slopes of storm water detention areas in a manner that will not interfere with the operation of the detention area.
I. The provisions of this Section regarding open soil area, minimum planting area, and tree protection standards shall only apply to those trees on a site for which the applicant seeks to receive tree canopy credit.
101.3 Measurement of Tree Canopy.
Tree canopy requirements may be met by preserving existing individual trees, preserving groups of individual existing trees, by planting trees, or a combination of preservation and planting. For a tree to be eligible for meeting the tree canopy requirements, its trunk must be growing wholly on that property (with the exception of Glynn County trees) and must be located within the required open soil area. The eligible categories of tree canopy are measured as follows:
A. The open soil area that is credited to a preserved individual tree or a group of preserved individual trees shall be the actual square footage of the open soil area dedicated to the growth and maintenance of the tree(s). The minimum amount of open soil area for any individual tree or group of trees is 400 square feet. Designation of the critical root zone as the minimum amount of open soil area for a tree is favored and encouraged, but not required, if such area is greater than 400 square feet.
- Any existing Large Canopy Tree of six inches DBH or greater retained in good growing condition on the property is eligible for use in meeting the tree canopy requirements. Provided, however, that invasive species and certain non-native trees shall not be eligible for use in meeting the tree canopy requirements. A list of these invasive species and non-native trees shall be kept and maintained by the County Arborist.
B. The open soil area that is credited to a newly planted tree shall be the actual square foot area of the open soil area dedicated to the growth and maintenance of the tree. The minimum amount of open soil area for any planted tree is 400 square feet. Designation of the critical root zone as the minimum amount of open soil area for a tree is favored and encouraged, but not required, if such area is greater than 400 square feet.
- Large Canopy Tree of a selected species from the Glynn County Preferred Species List set forth in Appendix “B” and must be at least six feet tall and two inch caliper or greater.
C. Preserved Specimen Trees shall be credited with 1.25 times the actual square foot area of the open soil area dedicated to the growth and maintenance of that tree. The minimum amount of open soil area is 400 square feet.
D. Parking lot trees, meaning trees preserved or planted within the interior portions of parking lots, may be utilized to meet a portion of the tree canopy requirements. Parking lot trees are not required to have the minimum 400 feet of open soil area. The minimum open soil area for parking lot trees is 180 square feet. Parking lot trees may not comprise more than one-third (1/3) of the total number of trees used to meet the tree density requirement.
101.4 Tree Protection Standards.
Trees preserved and/or planted to meet the tree canopy requirements shall be actively protected during development and passively protected throughout the life of the tree. Tree protection zones shall be established prior to commencement of land development activities and maintained for the duration of development for trees preserved or planted to meet the tree canopy requirements.
A. Active tree protection shall meet the following minimum criteria:
- Protective fencing shall be installed at the location of the tree protection zone prior to any development, construction, or land disturbance activity on the property and shall remain in place until construction activities end or a certificate of occupancy is issued, whichever is later.
- Tree protection fencing shall be four feet high, high-visibility polypropylene fencing erected with sturdy posts.
- The trunks of trees designated for preservation on the Tree Plan shall be encircled with green flagging tape, green surveyor’s tape, or green barricade tape at least two (2) inches in width.
- The activities described in subsection 624.5(c) are prohibited within the tree protection zone.
- Low hanging limbs that may be damaged by equipment traffic or other construction activity shall be pruned so as to prevent such damage prior to commencement of any development, construction, or land disturbance activity.
- When equipment movement is likely to cause damage to tree trunks, the tree trunks shall be wrapped vertically with one layer of two inch by four inch lumber spaced a maximum of 12 inches apart and secured with strapping. The wrapping shall remain in place throughout the time that damage is likely to occur.
B. Passive tree protection shall require, at a minimum, the avoidance of the activities described in subsection 624.5(c) within the tree protection zone.
C. The following activities, along with any other activities harmful to a tree’s roots, trunk, or crown are prohibited within the tree protection zone:
- Vehicle or equipment traffic, parking, or storage;
- Storage of materials or supplies;
- Disposal of waste material such as paint, oil, solvents, or other harmful substances;
- Placement of any temporary or permanent structures;
- Equipment maintenance or washout;
- Wounding of the trunk;
- Wounding or cutting of roots;
- Pruning not in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 Pruning Standards;
- Paving with concrete, asphalt or other impervious surface; and
- Altering the natural grade to expose the roots or to cover the tree’s root system with more than four (4) inches of soil.
D. Any trees preserved or planted in accordance with an approved Tree Plan that die or are severely damaged within the first two years after construction shall be replaced in accordance with the standards of 624.4(b). Any replacement trees shall be maintained for a minimum of two consecutive years after planting or replacement. A statement providing notice of this requirement shall be placed on the Final Plat for every subdivision with an approved Tree Plan.
101.5 Protection of Glynn County Trees
A. All trees growing on Glynn County property, including public streets rights-of-way, Glynn County offices and facilities, parks and recreation areas, and all other public areas, shall be protected trees. It shall be unlawful for any person other than Glynn County to cut, remove, move, prune, damage or cause the death of any Glynn County tree or to engage in any of the activities described in subsection 624.5(c) within the tree protection zone of any such tree; whether or not the tree protection zone extends onto adjacent private property.
B. When activities necessitating an approved Tree Plan are conducted on property subject to the provisions of this Section, Glynn County trees shall be actively protected during development and passively protected throughout the life of the tree if the structural root zone of the Glynn County tree extends onto the property. Tree protection zones shall be established for such Glynn County trees on applicable sites. The tree protection zone shall be established and maintained for the duration of development and the life of the tree in accordance with the standards set forth in 624.5. Owners of property required to obtain an approved Tree Plan shall receive tree canopy credit for the open soil area dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of Glynn County trees when required to protect a Glynn County tree.
C. During development of property subject to the provisions of this Section, the tree protection zone of any Glynn County tree adjoining the property and within the public right-of-way shall be protected as provided in subsections 624.5(a) and 624.5(c). This provision shall apply whether or not the tree protection zone extends onto the adjoining private property.
D. Applicable sites shall not be required to protect the structural root zone of a Glynn County tree if the trunk of the Glynn County tree is separated from the property line of the applicable site by a public or private road with a right-of-way of not less than 50 feet in width.
101.6 Tree Plan and Review Process.
A. Tree Plan. Owners of the property delineated in subsection 624.2 shall prepare and submit a proposed Tree Plan for review contemporaneously with an application for a site plan, preliminary plat, expedited subdivision, demolition permit, land disturbance permit, or with a request to separate a substandard lot of record into separate tax parcels. The Tree Plan shall show the amount, location, and type of tree canopy currently existing on the property as of the date of submission of the Tree Plan and the tree canopy to be preserved or planted on the property.
- The proposed Tree Plan shall be in the form of a to-scale map or a site plan prepared by a registered surveyor, registered engineer, registered landscape architect, or registered architect properly sealed by the preparer, and shall include the following information:
a. Property line with bearings and distances, easements, marsh and wetland delineations, and other information necessary to calculate development area;
b. A tree survey noting the location of all trees of 12 inches DBH or greater on the property along with the species common name and DBH. Groupings of trees with overlapping canopies may be identified together when feasible;
c. Photographs of all trees proposed for removal, all trees proposed for preservation, and all Glynn County trees abutting the property. Individual photographs of each tree are required for sites of one acre or less. Photographs of groups of trees, including aerial photographs or satellite images, are allowed for sites greater than one acre so long as such photographs provide enough detail to adequately and accurately represent the trees located on the site;
d. For individual trees and groups of trees to be preserved – the species common name, DBH, location of the trunk, the amount and location of open soil area for the tree(s), the boundaries of the tree protection zone, and the location of protective fencing;
e. For planted trees – the species common name, the caliper and height at time of planting, the amount and location of open soil area for the tree, the boundaries of the tree protection zone, and the location of protective fencing;
f. Glynn County trees – the locations of any and all Glynn County trees whose structural root zones extend onto the property, the species common name of each tree, DBH, location of the trunk, the amount and location of open soil area for the trees, the boundaries of the tree protection zone, and the location of protective fencing;
g. Specimen Trees – the locations of any and all specimen trees, the species common name of each tree, DBH, and whether the tree will be preserved;
h. The locations of existing and proposed structures, paving, driveways, cut and fill areas, detention areas, utility lines, and easements;
i. If applicable, the locations and details of all permanent tree protection measures (tree wells, aeration systems, permeable paving, retaining walls, bollards, etc.); and
j. Calculations showing compliance with the tree canopy requirements using existing trees and replacement trees.
B. Review Process. Tree Plans shall be evaluated by the County Arborist prior to being forwarded to the Islands Planning Commission or Community Development Director for consideration. The County Arborist shall provide recommendations regarding the Tree Plan to the Community Development Department as part of its development review process. Consideration of a proposed Tree Plan shall occur as follows:
- Application. Applicants seeking review of a Tree Plan shall file the Tree Plan with the Community Development Department. Tree Plans with missing and/or inaccurate information will be returned to the applicant and will not be processed. Upon receipt of a complete Tree Plan application, the Tree Plan will be submitted to the County Arborist for review. The County Arborist shall schedule and conduct an inspection of the property. The applicant or their designee shall be advised as to the date and time of the inspection and given an opportunity to participate. Following inspection, the County Arborist shall advise the applicant of any recommended changes in the applicant’s proposed Tree Plan necessary to make it comply with the provisions of this Section. The County Arborist shall forward the proposed Tree Plan to the Community Development Department with a recommendation.
- Consideration by Islands Planning Commission. The Islands Planning Commission shall consider Tree Plans filed in conjunction with an application for a site plan or Island Preservation District demolition permit. No site plan or Island Preservation District demolition permit shall be deemed approved unless and until the accompanying Tree Plan is approved by either the Islands Planning Commission or by the Board of Commissioners on appeal. The Islands Planning Commission will consider the Tree Plan at the same meeting as the accompanying application. The public shall be given notice of consideration of the proposed Tree Plan by placement of a sign in a conspicuous location on the subject property or within the right-of-way adjacent to the subject property. The sign shall contain the date, time, and place of the meeting of the Islands Planning Commission. The sign shall be posted at least 15 days, but not more than 45 days, prior to the date of the meeting.
The Islands Planning Commission shall consider the recommendations of the County Arborist in making its decision whether the proposed Tree Plan is in compliance with the technical standards and protection requirements of this Section. The Islands Planning Commission may approve, approve with conditions, deny, or defer action on a proposed Tree Plan. When denying a Tree Plan the Islands Planning Commission shall include the reasons for such denial in its motion.
- Consideration by Community Development Director. The Community Development Director shall consider Tree Plans filed in conjunction with an application for a preliminary plat, expedited subdivision, land disturbance permit, clearing of commercial property, demolition permit for buildings built on, or across, the common lot line(s) of two more contiguous substandard lots of record, and requests to separate a tax parcel when the parcel consists of two or more contiguous substandard lots of record. None of the aforementioned applications or requests shall be deemed approved unless and until the accompanying Tree Plan is approved by either the Community Development Director or by the Board of Commissioners on appeal.
The Community Development Director shall consider the recommendations of the County Arborist in making the decision whether the proposed Tree Plan is in compliance with the technical standards and protection requirements of this Section. The Community Development Director may approve, approve with conditions, or deny the proposed Tree Plan. When denying a Tree Plan the Community Development Director shall provide the reasons for such denial to the applicant in writing.
a. An applicant whose application for a Tree Plan is denied by the Islands Planning Commission or the Community Development Director may appeal such decision to the Board of Commissioners. Such appeal shall be made in writing and must be filed with and received by the Community Development Director. For appeals from the Islands Planning Commission, the appeal must be delivered within 30 days of the date of the meeting wherein the Islands Planning Commission made its decision or reported its reasons for denial. For appeals from the Community Development Director, the appeal must be delivered within 30 days of the date of transmission of the written reasons for denial. The written appeal must include the appellant’s name and address and specifically state the grounds for which the decision of the Islands Planning Commission or Community Development Director should be overturned or modified, based on procedural irregularity and/or the applicable criteria. Appeals received after the deadline shall be rejected.
b. The Board of Commissioners shall hear the appeal at a regularly scheduled meeting within sixty (60) calendar days of the Community Development Director’s receipt of the written appeal. The hearing before the Board of Commissioners shall be confined to a review of the record of the proceeding before the Islands Planning Commission. If the appeal is from a decision of the Community Development Director, the review will be confined to a review of the materials submitted to him or her regarding the application. No new evidence shall be admitted or considered at the hearing. The Board of Commissioners shall review the record for error based on procedural irregularity and/or error based on the sufficiency or insufficiency of the evidence to support the findings and conclusions of the Islands Planning Commission or Community Development Director that the applicable criteria were not met. Prior to the appeal hearing, the Board of Commissioners shall receive the record of the proceeding before the Islands Planning Commission, including the adopted findings and conclusions of the Islands Planning Commission, the written staff report submitted to the Islands Planning Commission, and any information and documentation presented to the Islands Planning Commission at the proceeding by the applicant, proponents, opponents, and County staff. For appeals from a decision of the Community Development Director, the Board of Commissioners shall receive any information and documentation presented to the Community Development Director regarding the Tree Plan application, the recommendation and/or findings of the County Arborist, and the written reasons for denial.
c. At the appeal hearing, the Board of Commissioners shall hear from the appellant and from staff of the Community Development Department, each of whom shall have up to ten minutes to address the Board of Commissioners. After hearing from the appellant and county staff, the Board of Commissioners may ask questions of the individuals and parties involved, including those members of the Islands Planning Commission that voted to deny, as may be necessary to assist in rendering a decision. After concluding the hearing, the Board of Commissioners may: (1) affirm or reverse the decision in whole or in part; (2) affirm, modify, or reverse the decision with conditions; (3) remand the item back to the Islands Planning Commission or Community Development Director with instruction for further action; or (4) defer action on the appeal until a future meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
- Review by Tree Board; Glynn County Trees. When a proposed Tree Plan includes a site where the structural root zone of a Glynn County tree extends onto the site, the Tree Board shall consider and make recommendations regarding the Tree Plan prior to consideration and final approval by either the Islands Planning Commission or the Community Development Director. The Tree Board shall prepare a written report which includes its recommendation(s) and forward said report to either the Islands Planning Commission or the Community Development Director. The Tree Board shall provide its recommendation within 60 days of the receipt of a complete Tree Plan application by the Community Development Department. If the Tree Board does not provide a recommendation within 60 days, the Tree Plan shall be deemed to have been recommended for approval by the Tree Board.
A. Where exceptional practical difficulties, special conditions, hardships, or results inconsistent with the purpose and intent of this Section may result from the strict application of certain provisions thereof, variances may be granted by the Islands Planning Commission upon a finding that the criteria in 624.8(b) have been met.
B. All variance requests, including those associated with an application subject to the approval of the Community Development Director, shall be considered and decided by the Islands Planning Commission. Variance requests shall be submitted along with the Tree Plan application and shall include a statement and evidence demonstrating that the following criteria are met:
- There are extraordinary and exceptional conditions pertaining to the particular subject property because of its size, shape, or topography;
- Such conditions are peculiar to the subject property;
- The special conditions or circumstances are not self-imposed – meaning they do not result from the action(s) or inaction of the applicant; and
- The variance, if granted, would not cause substantial harm to the public good or impair the purpose and intent of this Ordinance.
This Section is not intended to prevent the preservation of Mature Live Oak trees in circumstances which do not meet the requirements of this Section. In development or redevelopment of property on St. Simons Island, it is preferred that Mature Live Oak trees are preserved wherever possible. In furtherance of that preference, and in addition to the foregoing criteria, a variance may be granted where the requestor demonstrates that the strict application of this Section would prevent the preservation of Mature Live Oaks on the property.
C. In exercising its authority to consider variances, the Islands Planning Commission may approve, approve with conditions, deny, or defer action on a variance request. No variance shall be permitted for a land use that is not a permitted use within the zoning district in which the property is located. No variance shall be permitted which fully eliminates the open soil area required by this Section.
101.8 Preservation of Mature Live Oaks
St. Simons Island is particularly known and renowned for its mature Live Oak trees. Accordingly, preservation of such trees is deemed to be necessary and desirable.
A. Any provision to the contrary in this Section notwithstanding, all Live Oak trees (Latin name: Quercus virginiana), 38 inches DBH or greater, located on St. Simons Island shall be classified as mature Live Oak trees. A mature Live Oak tree shall not be removed from any property on St. Simons Island, regardless of the zoning or size of the property, without prior consent or approval from the Community Development Director; except for Glynn County trees removed by Glynn County. Tree removal shall be approved only if the mature Live Oak meets one or more of the following conditions:
- Insect infestation or disease for which treatment is impractical, causing tree decline, and with a high probability of spreading to other trees.
- Damage such that it is more likely than not that the tree will die.
- Unresolvable conflict with infrastructure or existing structure that is creating an unsafe condition, damage to the infrastructure/structure, or poses a hazard to the public health, safety, or welfare.
- Unresolvable conflict with a permitted use (under the applicable provisions of the Zoning Ordinance) which makes such use impractical or impossible.
- The tree creates an unsafe condition or poses a hazard to public health, safety, or welfare.
The Community Development Director, with input from the County Arborist, shall determine whether a mature Live Oak meets any of the above conditions.
B. If removal of a mature Live Oak is proposed by a Tree Plan submitted for consideration by the Islands Planning Commission or the Community Development Director, the County Arborist must be consulted regarding the criteria in 624.9(a) before the Tree Plan may be approved. In all other instances of proposed removal, the Community Development Director shall have the authority to approve or deny removal of a mature Live Oak tree.
C. For each mature Live Oak removed, one new Live Oak of at least four (4) inches DBH shall be planted on the property by the applicant.
A. A violation of the provisions of this Section shall be a misdemeanor. The maximum permissible fine shall be $1,000.00 per offense. As a deterrent to violation, second and subsequent violations by the same offender of any provision of this Section whether violations of the same or different provisions of this Section as the initial violation, and whether involving the same or different property, shall increase the fine owing.
- First violation: For the first violation of any provision of this Section by any violator (whether an individual or corporation), the fine shall be a minimum of $500.00.
- Second violation: For the second violation of any provision of this Section (whether the same or different as the first violation) by the same violator (whether an individual or corporation), the fine shall be a minimum of $750.00.
- Third and subsequent violations: For the third and subsequent violation of any provision of this Section (whether the same or different as the prior two violations) by the same violator (whether an individual or corporation), the fine shall be a minimum of $900.00.
B. In the event that a tree preserved or planted in accordance with an approved Tree Plan is removed in violation of this Section, violators shall be subject to replace the tree with a tree or trees equaling 125% of the total caliper of the removed or damaged trees. Furthermore, the location of the tree’s open soil area shall permanently remain in a pervious state with no structures or buildings placed on it.
C. Upon notice from the Community Development Director, work on any development that is being done contrary to the provisions of this Section shall immediately cease. The stop-work notice shall be in writing and shall go to the owner of the property, or to his agent, or to the person doing the work, and shall state the conditions under which work may be resumed. When an emergency exists, the Community Development Director shall not be required to give written notice prior to stopping the work. Further, in the event that work on any development is being done contrary to the provisions of this Section, the Community Development Director may revoke any permit previously issued by the Glynn County Community Development Department pertaining to the development activity for which the development activity permit has been issued until, at his or her discretion, the work on the development is brought into compliance with the provisions of this Section.
D. In addition to the foregoing remedies, if the person engaged in development activity fails to obey a written notice to comply within the time specified, he shall be deemed in violation of this Section and, in addition to other penalties, the Community Development Director may direct the Building Official to refuse to issue a certificate of occupancy for the building or other improvements constructed or being constructed on the site until the measures necessary to achieve compliance with this Section have been completed and all violations of this Section have been brought into compliance.
E. The owner of any property where a violation of this Section occurs and any architect, builder, contractor, or any other agent of the owner, or any tenant, who commits or assists in the commission of any violation, shall be guilty of a separate offense.
101.10 Liability, Severability, Effective Date.
A. The contents of this Section shall not in any way be deemed to impose any liability on Glynn County, the Board of Commissioners, the County Arborist, or Glynn County employees nor shall it relieve the owner of any private property from the duty to keep trees in a safe condition as not to adversely affect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
B. Should any section, subsection, clause, or provision of this Section be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the Section in whole or any part thereof other than the part so declared to be invalid.
C. This Section shall become effective upon its adoption. To the extent that a person has submitted a complete application to Glynn County for a site plan, building permit, preliminary plat, expedited subdivision, demolition permit or land disturbance permit prior to adoption of this Section, such person shall not be subject to this Section and shall be subject to such requirements in existence prior to the adoption of this Section.
D. This Section is not intended to repeal, abrogate, or supersede any existing Tree Plan or Planned Development tree standards approved by Glynn County or the Planning Commissions.
For the purposes of this Section, the following definitions shall apply:
Airport property means that property consisting of “Tract ‘A’ – Aviation Area” as described in the Planned Development District for the McKinnon St. Simons Airport; as initially adopted by the Board of Commissioners on October 16, 2014, and as amended from time to time.
Arborist means a person who has been trained in the growing, diagnosing, treating, pruning, and removing of trees and who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.
Caliper means a standard of trunk measurement for trees. Caliper inches are measured at the height of six (6) inches above the ground for trees up to and including 4-inch caliper and twelve (12) inches above the ground for trees larger than 4-inch caliper.
Clearing means the removal of trees of six inches DBH or greater. Clearing shall not mean the removal of underbrush, trees less than six inches DBH, invasive species, or non-native trees.
Community Development Director means the Director of the Glynn County Community Development Department or their designee.
County means Glynn County, Georgia.
Critical root zone means the minimum area beneath and surrounding a tree, which must be left undisturbed in order to sustain the health of a tree. The Critical Root Zone is represented by a circle centering on the tree’s trunk with a diameter equivalent to 2.5 feet for every one inch in DBH. Example: The Critical Root Zone diameter of a 20-inch diameter tree is fifty (50) feet.
Development Area means all land used in the calculations for Density and Site Coverage (as defined in Section 302 of the Zoning Ordinance). Development Area shall not include “Waters of the State” as defined by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, “Jurisdictional Wetlands” as defined by the Army Corps of Engineers, areas seaward of the Beach and Dune Development Setback Line as defined in Section 727, public or private rights-of-way, access easements, or accessways as appropriate.
Diameter breast-height/DBH means the standard measure of tree size. The tree trunk is measured at a height of four and one-half (4½) feet above the ground. If a tree splits into multiple trunks below four and one-half (4½) feet above the ground, then each trunk will be measured separately as an individual tree at four and one-half (4½) feet above the ground.
Glynn County Arborist means the individual empowered by Glynn County with the responsibility for reviewing plans, conducting site inspections, and otherwise administering the provisions of this Section.
Glynn County Tree means any tree whose trunk is growing wholly or partially on land in which Glynn County has a property interest, including, but not limited to, public street rights-of-way, parks, and building and facility yards.
Large Canopy Tree means a large tree with wide spread and being of a species so listed in the Preferred Species List of the Glynn County Comprehensive Tree Plan, as adopted by the Board of Commissioners from time to time.
Open soil area means the area beneath and around a planted or preserved tree that shall remain in a permeable condition and is not covered by man-made or impermeable materials or structures such as buildings, hardscapes, impermeable pads, or paving in such a way as to prevent the natural passage of water and atmosphere.
Pervious surface means all that area of real property that can be landscaped or planted, allows the natural passage of water from the surface into the water table, and is not covered by man-made materials or structures such as buildings or paving.
Section means Section 624 of the Zoning Ordinance in its entirety.
Silvaculture means the planting, producing, and tending of stands of trees specifically for the purpose of harvesting for market. Silvaculture is a permitted use only in the Forest Agricultural (FA) District pursuant to Section 704 of the Zoning Ordinance.
Specimen tree means any tree which, in the determination of the Islands Planning Commission, qualifies for special consideration for conservation due to its size, type, condition, location, registration or historical significance and is determined by the County Arborist, prior to development, to be in overall good health without the aid of a specialized care plan according to accepted International Society of Arboriculture practices. Specimen trees shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
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