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Trees get tabled
Citing economy, Richmond Hill delays implementing tree ordinance
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A postponement of the new tree ordinance and the completion of a costly waste removal project at the Sterling Creek wastewater treatment center were among items discussed at the Feb. 3 meeting of the Richmond Hill City Council.

After Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar introduced the first reading of the Tree Ordinance, council and Mayor Richard Davis agreed to put off activating the newly drafted document.

They said it is in consideration of the current dip in the housing industry.

The ordinance looks to require a set number of trees per acreage developers and builders must incorporate into their projects.

Davis said they should "slow down" the process because the ordinance may prove expensive for local homebuilders, who are already suffering enough from the economic downturn.

He suggested that it be brought back to the table in six months, saying he hopes the economy will improve by that point.

"Everything we do in the way of regulations can make houses cost more," Davis said.

Also at the meeting, public works supervisor David Buchanan said the wastewater sludge removal project, estimated to have cost around $200,000, is now completed.

The "emergency situation" arose in October when the waste levels at the center, which had accumulated over the last 11 years, reached capacity, and around 350 tons of it needed to be removed.

Melton said the design engineer of the center originally told him capacity could never be reached, but lessons have been learned through this ordeal. He said upgrades will be made to the center, including the construction of a second receiving lagoon and a new screening system.

Melton and Buchanan also discussed how depth of accumulated waste will periodically be checked from here on, which will further help in avoiding this dilemma in the future.

In other business, Richmond Hill resident Ray Carter, 22, was granted a permit to open a tattoo parlor in the Harris Trail retail complex on Hwy. 17.

At an earlier planning and zoning meeting/public hearing, Pete Buhles, who owns a tattoo parlor directly across the street in Park South, had attorney Lloyd Murray speak on his behalf. Despite Murray’s statements that it is unfair to have the shop open up so close to his, the P&Z commission recommended to approve Carter’s permit.

Council also ruled in favor of Carter, granting him the permit to open his shop. Carter said he hopes to open up for business later this month.

Davis used the example of the new Walgreens being allowed to open across the street from CVS, saying they couldn’t legally set a precedent based on the similarities of services offered.

"It’s good to see young people open a business in Richmond Hill," council member and Mayor Pro-tem Floyd Hilliard said. "Especially in the face of rough economic times."

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