Tree-cutting fine could increase
Summerville could raise the fine for illegally cutting down trees in response to a recent clear-cutting incident by a homebuilder.
Council raised the idea during Monday’s finance committee meeting after getting the report on the fine paid by D.R. Horton for clear-cutting a lot adjacent to Pine Forest Country Club.
The builder had a tree plan on file with the town but it wasn’t followed. It paid the maximum fine of $500 per tree.
Between the fine and mitigation payments into the tree bank, D.R. Horton paid almost $25,000 for removing the trees.
Councilman Walter Bailey said he suspects for the large builders, that fine is merely “a cost of doing business.”
He received calls from local builders who think the large builders compete unfairly by disregarding the rules and then paying a fine that is, to them, a “drop in the bucket.”
Bailey said he didn’t have a figure in mind for the fine, but it should be enough that it hurts to break the rules.
Councilman Bob Jackson said he would be on board with raising the fine.
Town Attorney G.W. Parker said he would have to look into how much the town can charge for a code violation, but Bailey said he believes there’s a way to structure the code so the fine can be increased.