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‘Johnny Appleseed Provision’: Pro-development? Me? How Lowcountry can do it better | Opinion

Listen to this plan to give future generations more beautiful live oaks in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Listen to this plan to give future generations more beautiful live oaks in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

At the rate our area is growing in leaps and bounds I’ll bet you never thought you’d hear me say that I have adopted an “pro-development” stance.

Yes, you heard me right. There is no stopping or even slowing down our growth rate.

Almost daily, I pass by areas that were forested a day or so ago and in the blink of an eye there is nary a tree to be seen. Instead, there are piles of trees that have been uprooted and the ground is nothing more than mud, dirt and stubble of larger trees that have yet to be dug up.

Progress is here to stay, and, boy oh boy, are these areas being cleared at an unbelievable rate.

With that said, I’ll concede that I have officially taken the attitude that if you can’t beat them, then join them!

Shocked?

I would imagine that many of you old-timers are thinking I am off my rocker by going pro-development over the lazy lifestyle we all remember.

As you may have read in many of my previous columns, I grew up on Hilton Head Island when deer outnumbered humans 50 to one. Both Bluffton and Beaufort were so quiet you might pass a dozen cars at most on any given day.

On Sundays, that number would be cut in half and every single business had its doors locked tight. If you needed a certain item, then you were flat out of luck until Monday. There were only two or three TV stations and it seemed that revivals took up a large part of each of these station’s air time, with the possible exception of the Porter Wagoner show as Dolly Parton started her rise to stardom thanks to Porter.

It was definitely simpler times back then.

So, what made me change my attitude about development that must have you scratching your heads about now?

It actually came to me a while back as I was driving through the older section of Bluffton, and two days later when I had to run over to Beaufort to meet a friend. In both instances, the sun was shining and a light breeze swayed long strands of Spanish moss.

The sheer mass of some of the live oaks I passed got me thinking of them as witnesses to the history of this area. Had they watched as columns of Union and/or Confederate forces passed beneath them? It even occurred to me that some of the really big ones could have been there as Revolutionary soldiers might have possibly taken a break from the heat and napped with their backs resting against that very tree.

It was at that moment that I had an idea that might change the face of the Lowcountry for generations to come.

I had to give this idea a name, a catchy name. Scrolling through one after another, it hit me. The “Johnny Appleseed Provision.”

If adopted by town governments or, better yet, the county government, it would work like this. When developers go into wooded areas and clear-cut huge tracts, the “Johnny Appleseed Provision” would require that for every 20 (or some other number) of trees removed, they would be required to plant “X amount” of hardwoods, especially live oaks and other long-living trees.

The catch is this: our generation will not be around to see the fruits of this idea, but future generations will think back to our generation with fond regard that we had the foresight to keep the beauty that had drawn so many to move here alive and well. Instead of large open tracts with a few token trees planted, massive oaks will stop newcomers dead in their tracks as they admire these masterpieces of nature.

Another pro-development concept is just as important, maybe even more so.

At present, most of us who live near the May River or any other estuary near Beaufort, still rely on septic tanks that ultimately leach into our waters. Why aren’t we hooked into waste treatment lines? It is just too expensive. For instance, my house is at most 50 yards from Alljoy Road, but to tie into one of these lines would cost between $10,000 and $15,000.

The way I see it, if that cost were more affordable, over time the utility would make out like a bandit. And, in the process, protect our waters that simply cannot handle the amount of pollutants that our bulging population is no doubt unaware it is pouring into these precious waters.

One last idea that is aimed at folks who have purchased waterfront lots and plan on building. Leave a few yards of original vegetation where your land meets the water. This acts as a filtration barrier for fertilizers and pesticides used on lawns that you may plant. Local ordinances call for this, but it needs to be enforced.

Of all these “pro-development” ideas, let’s start with the “Johnny Appleseed Provision.” Imagine the difference it would make for future generations.

We might not stop so much development, but we sure as heck can develop with unselfish plans, which will forever be appreciated by our children and their children and their children for centuries to come.

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