From the Post and Courier:
The city's a hero
Sunday, December 16, 2007
A few weeks ago this space had news of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens receiving a "Landslide 2007: Heroes of Horticulture" award from the Cultural Landscape Foundation. Now comes word that the city of Charleston also won the award.
The two entities were among 21 honorees nationwide. The award honors work to preserve landscapes at risk of being lost.
The city won for its work to preserve the 1,400-year-old Angel Oak, which was threatened by encroaching development on Johns Island. The city purchased the site in 1988.
**They don't seem like they are protecting the Angel Oak anymore...**
From the Cultural Lanscape Foundation:
Angel Oak Park, Johns Island
Charleston, South Carolina Angel Southern Live Oak
The Angel Oak has withstood centuries of the furies of nature. The primary threat facing this magnificent tree today is insensitive and indiscriminate development. The Angel Oak is situated within the City of Charleston on Johns Island, a sea island that, until recent years, had been largely rural and agricultural. To date, although no development has occurred that could endanger the health and ambiance of the Angel Oak, such development is looming. Acreage adjacent to the Angel Oak is currently either wooded or agricultural. Insensitive development would most likely reduce adjacent forest cover, remove native understory growth, and introduce impervious paving. Separately or together, these changes could be catastrophic for the Angel Oak. Hydrology could be altered to an extent that groundwater available to the tree becomes scarce or too abundant. Significant alteration of drainage patterns would effect the amount of runoff water the root zone of the tree receives, an amount to which it has acclimated itself over the years.
Moreover, the Angel Oak relies heavily on the adjacent woodlands for protection from the harsh sun of the South Carolina summer. The horizontal branching pattern of Live Oak trees assures that the Angel Oak is not the tallest tree in the area. The taller trees that surround the oak deflect much of harsh sunlight, preventing sunscald. Removal of the adjacent woodland would expose the tree considerably, subjecting it to harsher weather conditions that could cause irreparable harm.
Published on 10/19/05
BY DAVID SLADE
Of The Post and Courier Staff
** Mr. Nettles is a lawyer for River Birch, Angel Oak Village LLC's former name...**
The city's planning staff, and Riley, wanted more.
The mayor said that if the staff recommendations were not approved, future visitors to the Angel Oak could find a "desecrated space" where the back of a grocery store or a townhouse development would be visible through the trees.
"Obviously, Mr. Nettles represents developers who want to buy this property and do damage to Angel Oak, in my opinion." -Joe Riley
Riley called the city's quick decision to potentially spend $3.5 million "something very extraordinary." He expressed confidence that if the developers back away, a judge would accept the city's cash offer for the property, but Riley conceded at one point that "perhaps there is a greater risk there than I perceive."
Robert Demoura of Angel Oak Village LLC boasts that he will be providing 15% affordable housing(because the city is requiring him to do so) That would mean that of 600 units, only 90 would be affordable.
I spoke with Mr. Demoura about reducing the density of the development, and he said that he would work with me, but the reduction would have to be from the 15% affordable housing. Why is that?
According to certified aborists, the Angel Oak could take 60 years to die: "Disturbing the surrounding forest will impact the Angel Oak, especially during hurricanes. Changing the wetland (didn't think this was allowed anymore) will change the water table that the Angel Oak more than likely relies on. Damages to the tree and surrounding trees will not be evident in the remainder of the lives of the people making the decision. Big old trees die slowly, sometimes taking 60 years to finally give up the fight from the damage. "
- Scott Wade, State Coordinator of the Champion Tree Program for Pennsylvania, Arborist.
When I asked Dr. Ham about tree number 16, which is a beautiful live oak with a 29 in diameter with a weak branch (which could be removed--and the tree would keep growing healthily), he said, "Tree 16 does not ring a bell...I didn't take extensive notes." His notes say "weak branch attachment, poor condition, remove" The developers are requesting a variance for this tree at the BZA meeting Oct 1. It is part of "Phase one" If you look at the site plans, tree 16 is smack in the middle of where they are proposing to put the road into the community. Huh...wonder why its condition is "poor" all of a sudden. In section 54-329 of the tree protection requirements it says, "Each protected or grand tree that is determined by the Zoning Administrator to be hazardous, diseased or injured to the extent it is IRREPARABLY damaged shall be approved for removal." Dr. Ham also described some of the grand trees as "pieces of junk". I just don't feel comfortable with that at all.....
The runoff that does not stay within the development will go directley into Church Creek, which is already imperiled. When I spoke with Dr. Ham, he said he had never worked with a tree of that age before, let alone worked with the Angel Oak itself. If you read his resume, (which is quite impressive), he has spent most of his time teaching, and is inexperienced with oak trees. When I asked him if he had ever worked with a tree of this age before, he said, "No, not a particular specimen of this age."
Oh, and the hydrologist's innovative stormwater runoff plan is to fill over 5 acres of wetlands by using them as stormwater detention ponds. They are also using "bioswales"--this is another word for ditch...very innovative plan!
PLEASE ATTEND THE BZA MEETING WED, OCTOBER 1, AT 5PM--75 CALHOUN ST (3RD FLOOR) (ACROSS FROM DOWNTOWN LIBRARY)
PLEASE COME HELP SAVE THE ANGEL OAK!!
**WE NEED STRENGTH IN NUMBERS** THANK YOU SO MUCH, SEE YOU OCT 1!!!!
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