Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Summerville Town Council voted to publically support the mass cutting of trees along I-26 at its Jan. 8th meeting.
Council voted 4-3 to pass a resolution supporting the S.C. Department of Transportation proposal to remove all of the trees from the median of I-26 between mile markers 169 and 199.
The strip of highway has seen an abnormally large number of fatalities, which have resulted from drivers running off of the roadway and into the trees. SCDOT’s solution to lower the fatalities is to remove all of the trees on the 29.6-mile corridor and install a guard rail.
Councilmembers Kima Garten-Schmidt, Aaron Brown and Bob Jackson all voted in opposition of the resolution, each citing a desire to hear the public’s opinion and a lack of information on the subject. The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments will make the final decision on the matter in late February.
In between July when it was tasked with the proposal and February, the COG convened an ad-hoc committee to examine the scenario in greater detail and will conduct a public hearing.
By voting on the resolution, Summerville Town Council will be able to present its figurative vote to the COG, and guide Mayor Bill Collins, who is a voting member of the COG, in casting his final vote.
Jackson moved to table the vote on the resolution until after the mandatory public hearing (which will take place Jan. 21 at Summerville High School), but the motion was voted down.
Councilman Walter Bailey, who put the resolution on the meeting agenda, said he agreed with the COG committee’s decision. “I don’t think all the trees together are worth one human life,” he said.
Before Council voted on the resolution, they heard from three constituents during the public comments portion of the meeting who all disagreed with the plan. “In my business there are three things you have to be: safe, practical and pleasing. When you can do all three things you’ve got a winner,” said Diane Frankenberger.
Dora Ann Reaves followed: “If you do vote for this then I ask we also change our town motto from ‘Flowertown in the pines’ to ‘Flowertown in the stainless steel barriers.’”
Councilmen Terry Jenkins, Walter Bailey, Bill McIntosh and Mayor Bill Collins voted in favor of the resolution.