Richmond Hill Mayor Richard Davis instructed city manager Mike Melton to begin to design a tree ordinance after a power point presentation and a recommendation by consulting arborist Jerry Holcomb.
"We’re losing a large number of trees to development," said Holcomb. "A tree ordinance would govern the number of trees that could be removed. It is a proactive approach to tree management instead of reactive one."
Holcomb also advised that an ordinance would garner more grants to the city in which to protect the trees. The county and the city of Pembroke currently have a standing tree ordinance.
Holcomb detailed to the city a study on the status of the city’s tree inventory. The study was made possible due to a grant that was gained by the city through the efforts of community development specialist Jan Bass.
He stated there were 1,082 trees identified in Richmond Hill and stressed how valuable an asset they are to the city. J.F. Gregory Park alone has close to $103,000 worth of trees on its grounds.
Holcomb further recommended the city educate citizens on the value and benefits of trees, continue to allocate funds for tree work and plant more large canopy trees. He said all of his recommendations would improve the environment as well as the appearance of the city.
In other business:
- City Parks Director Harvey Lashley discussed the potential future implementation of video surveillance inside Gregory Park. "There haven’t been any incidents to bring this about," said Lashley. "It would just be to curtail any potential trouble."
- An extension to the Alltel cell tower on Timber Trail Road was approved. Davis commented this is a positive thing as cell phone coverage down 144 is unreliable.
- RHPD Chief Billy Reynolds and Sergeant Jason Sakelarios presented Senior Patrol Officer Jason Dean with the annual "Top Gun Award". The award was given to Dean for having the highest firearm score during training, which was headed by Sakelarios. Dean received a T-shirt depicting the honor and had his name added to a department plaque which also has the names of past winners on it.
Dean received applause, a standing ovation and the following comment from the mayor: "If you ever run from a cop, don’t run from that one right there."
- Sugar Magnolia Homes employee Brian Baraniak was accepted by council to the Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Board. He replaces Frank McAnear, whose term is expiring. Davis vouched for the character of Baraniak, saying he will make a fine addition to the board.
- A motion from Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar to double the pay for a planning and zoning board member from $40 to $80 a month was approved. Davis said he will gladly approve this change with the comment that gas prices have risen and he encourages all board members to drive to each site that is brought before them.
- Site plan approval was granted to Lloyd Murray for a project next to Hobart entitled 17 South Retail Center.