Clear-cutting a large lot to put in a housing development should not happen in Beaufort County.
Municipal and county ordinances should more effectively protect trees.
This is a core community value, with tree protection written into ordinances of the county as well as the municipalities.
So how can it happen?
The public needs a better explanation on the recent clear-cutting of 40 acres on Lady's Island to clear the way for a 114 homes, a gas station, 10,000 square feet of office space and 29,000 square feet of self-storage units.
It looked like a bomb was dropped on Sams Point Road.
Yet, concerned residents were told at a Lady's Island Community Preservation Committee meeting that developers complied with Beaufort County's tree ordinance, conducting a tree survey and paying the required fee for some of the trees removed from the site.
If fines enacted to protect trees are considered pesky little costs of doing business in Beaufort County, then a new tactic is needed.
Beaufort County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville of Lady's Island has asked the council's Natural Resources Committee to review the tree ordinance. All local governments need to do the same.
Around the corner from the Sams Point Road clear-cutting, some 40 acres is about to be cleared to make way for a Walmart Supercenter.
Will the stately oaks that people fought so hard to spare many years ago in what was a Publix parking lot on Lady's Island survive redevelopment of the property?
On Hilton Head Island, trees are under assault around the county airport.
In Bluffton, a buffer of trees hides the clear-cutting that just took place to make way for a Sam's Club and Walmart Supercenter at the corner of U.S. 278 and S.C. 46.
Last year, the town of Bluffton settled its lawsuit against a business that clearcut more than 6,000 trees on about 100 acres on U.S. 278. According to the lawsuit, about 5,800 of the downed trees were larger than 8 inches in diameter, and 350 more were at least 24 inches in diameter. Town ordinance prohibits removal of trees of those sizes without approval. The town accepted a $71,500 settlement.
The county with a live oak in its seal needs to strengthen what it is doing to protect trees and explain why clear-cutting is taking place.
We'd like to point out that the Walmart Supercenter on Hilton Head appears to do a brisk business despite it being totally out of sight from the highway, and with a heavily-treed, dark parking lot.
Not every tree can be spared. But not every lot can be cleared.