Residents on James Island express concern over potential removal of grand oaks
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Proposed upgrades to an intersection on James Island appear to be concerning some neighbors.
Charleston County’s recommended plan requires removing two grand oak trees at the intersection of Camp Road and Fort Johnson Road, an act that some James Islanders deem unnecessary.
Tuesday, the James Island Board of Zoning Appeals will meet to review the request to remove the trees.
According to a local advocacy group, they are 150-year-old grand oaks.
The town of James Island said removing the trees is needed in order to move forward with the intersection improvements, one councilman is wondering if there is any way these trees can be saved.
The intersection of Camp Road and Fort Johnson Road is one of the four areas on James Island that Charleston County has determined needs safety improvements. The first two Grand Oaks that line Camp Road are the trees in question.
One proposed plan for the intersection adds a turning lane, taking out many of the trees. But, the option the county recommends is a compact roundabout, only removing two trees.
James Island Councilman Garett Milliken said that’s still too many. He said the trees are perfectly healthy Grand Oaks and taking the first two trees could set the precedent for taking more in the future.
But he acknowledges the intersection improvement project must go forward.
“I believe that both goals can be realized. I do believe that nothing is carved in stone here with respect to the plans. And I feel that if the engineers can find a solution to saving these trees, that solution can carry over to other projects,” Milliken said.
However, James Island Mayor Bill Woolsey, said he disagrees.
He said they will continue to review the intersection with the county, making sure there is no way to avoid taking the trees.
For now, he said he thinks this plan is best for the town.
“This relatively small traffic circle is the best option. And if we have to sacrifice two trees of the over 40 on the road, I just think that is the responsible thing to do,” Woolsey said.
The county provided a statement saying they recommend this option because it saves more trees than the other options they provided and improves the safety of the intersection.
“Charleston County Public Works recommends the construction of an urban compact roundabout at Fort Johnson Road and Camp Road to improve the safety of the intersection. This type of roundabout will save as many Grand Oak trees as possible and require the acquisition of the least amount of right of way,” the County said in a statement.
If you’re interested in sharing your opinion with the town of James Island regarding the intersection plan and tree removal, you can email email@example.com.
Today’s meeting starts at 5 p.m. For a link to the agenda, click here.
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