Myrtle Beach neighborhood residents concerned about additional trees

mprabhu@thesunnews.comDecember 11, 2013 

Nuttal Oak trees waiting to be planted at the Emmens Preserve subdivision.

FOR THE SUN NEWS — Tom Murray

Steve Wallace said he has nothing against trees.

But the Emmens Preserve resident and his wife said they paid more for their corner lot in the Lennar Homes neighborhood on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base to have more sunlight come through their windows.

“If you put a tree there, then we won’t get the sun,” Judy Wallace said.

About a month ago, Lennar began moving forward with plans to plant about 700 trees in the public right of way in the Emmens Preserve community, off of Farrow Parkway.

“We saw all these flags in the yard and we went out and said, ‘what’s that?’ ” Steve Wallace said. “And [the landscapers] said, ‘we’re planting trees here.’ It was the first we’d heard of it.”

Lennar stopped planting when officials learned some resident were unhappy and took a revised plan to the Myrtle Beach City Council this week, where about 15 Emmens Preserve residents spoke against their desire for the trees. City Council members told residents they would work with Lennar to come up with a solution that worked for everyone.

Sam Sparks, Coastal Carolinas president of Lennar Homes, told City Council the original plan was to have a street tree – planted in the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street – for each home in Emmens Preserve. There are about 700 homes.

Once the company learned of the residents’ concerns they stopped planting trees in the neighborhoods, instead planting about 100 trees on Coventry Boulevard, which leads to the community from Farrow Parkway.

Part of the original plan for the neighborhood was always to put trees on each lot, city spokesman Mark Kruea said. Kruea said developers typically put trees on lots when the homes are constructed.

“By putting them on after the fact, it caught people by surprise,” Kruea said.

That’s part of Emmens Preserve resident Sarah Henry Jackson’s concern.

“My issue is that decisions are made and we have no idea until they start doing things,” she said.

Many residents said they had no idea that any additional trees would be planted once they moved in.

“We were told when we bought that what you see is what you get,” Judy Wallace said.

She and her husband said they spent a lot of money to put an irrigation system in their yard and landscape it the way they like. They said they’re afraid the types of trees that are proposed for his lot, including a live oak, have roots that would cause problems not only for his sprinkler system, but also the electrical lines near his home.

There also is the possibility that the tree roots would eventually cause the sidewalks to buckle. Any sidewalk repairs would be made by the city, Kruea said.

Kruea said any change to the street tree recommendations would require an amendment to the planned unit development.

“It seems the City Council is willing to compromise,” he said, though he added he wasn’t sure what that compromise would look like.

Sparks said he wants Lennar to make Emmens Preserve residents happy while fulfilling the agreement the developers made with the city.

“We’re very cognizant of the problems that happen,” Sparks said. “It’s not a consequence-free type of thing. … We’re kind of stuck right now. We want to comply with the city rules. We’ve got a beautiful neighborhood with a lot of residents that are passionate about what goes on out there.”

Residents said they are happy with the response from the city and from Lennar.

“Just give us some trees that aren’t intrusive,” Jackson said.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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