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Town rescinds support of tree cutting plan

  • Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In an unexpected vote Monday morning, Summerville Town Council voted 5 – 1, with one absent, at its Finance Committee meeting to rescind a previous vote supporting the clear-cutting of trees in the median of I-26.

Councilman Bill McIntosh proposed the motion during the “Discussion of Upcoming Council Agenda Items” portion of the committee meeting.

He said it was his understanding that the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) would be proposing a new plan for increasing safety on the roadway based on reactions from the public hearing last month, and he didn’t want to support any plan without seeing all of the options first.

Mayor Bill Collins confirmed SCDOT is expected to propose a new plan, after speaking with Ron Mitchum, executive director of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCD COG), last week.

The COG will render the final vote on the plans, which SCDOT has proposed to increase safety on I-26 between Summerville and I-95, a portion of road that’s been deemed particularly dangerous.

Council voted to pass a resolution supporting the SCDOT plan to clear-cut the trees in the median of I-26 at its Jan. 8 meeting in a 4-3 vote. Councilmembers Kima Garten-Schmidt, Aaron Brown and Bob Jackson voted against the motion at that time.

“The reason I voted against [supporting] this before is because I thought it was premature,” said Councilman Brown. “We should make sure our vote is in harmony with what the public wants.”

Councilman Walter Bailey said he would vote against the motion.

“This is too important just to back off because of public opinion. We were elected to make our own decisions here,” he said.

Attempting to settle the comments, Councilman McIntosh clarified his reason for the motion.

“DOT doesn’t need our support of this plan. If they’re going to make a ‘Plan C’ there is no reason to be on the record supporting ‘Plan B’,” he said.

Without being previously added to the agenda, the motion to rescind required a two-thirds vote to pass.

Council voted 5 – 1, with Councilman Bailey opposing and Councilman Jackson absent.

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