Conway family learns about tree ordinance the hard way - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Conway family learns about tree ordinance the hard way

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - What seemed like a small, harmless act, turned into something much bigger than one family could have imagined.

“People need to know about this,” said Lawrence Kent.

Kent's Magnolia tree had seen better days. Termites and woodpeckers were eating away at the bark, and limbs were starting to fall off.

Kent made the call to cut it down, and soon after, the City of Conway came knocking.

“We were just floored,” said Kent. “We didn't even know there was a city arborist, we had no idea about this tree board, I was actually quite indignant.”

The city's arborist let the family know it had violated age-old city ordinances, and could be on the hook for thousands of dollars.

Conway has 11 trees considered protected by the city. If someone cuts one down without permission, they could have to replace the tree or pay its market value.

DIG DEEPER: See the full text on Conway's tree ordinance here

“Those trees were decided upon based on the overall population of species,” said Wanda Lilly, Conway arborist. “One important thing is to keep diversity within any setting, so we try to keep the diversity going within the tree population.”

Since we started making calls on this story, the city has eased up. It says it doesn't believe the family acted in a malicious way and is willing to work with them to replace the tree.

The family says it's happy with this win-win solution, but hopes others do some more research before they find themselves in trouble as well.

“It's my property, I own the property, I own the trees on the property, and then I found out that, well, I really don't,” explained Kent.

If you do have one of those eleven types of trees on your property, it doesn't mean you can't get them removed. You just have to speak with the city arborist and get a permit beforehand.

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