Council pulls plug on clear cutting

BLYTHEWOOD – After months of discussion and angst over what the town attorney said is a loophole in the Town’s landscape and tree preservation ordinance, council voted 5-0 last week to amend the ordinance by repealing Section 155.390 (H). That section exempted certain projects from landscaping yard requirements that allowed developer D.R. Horton to clear cut a number of residential lots in the Cobblestone Park neighborhood.

While citizens in Cobblestone applaud the removal of Sec. (H), developers have rallied to keep it.

“If, as a municipality, you start changing ordinances on a whim, investors, businesses and developers will lose faith and interest in this market for fear the rules will be changed on them during their projects,” D.R. Horton representative Jessie Bray said.

Mayor J. Michael Ross, who lives in Cobblestone and whose property abuts some of the lots that were clear cut, said citizens in Blythewood don’t want clear cutting in their neighborhoods

“You say if we do this, developers won’t come,” Ross said. “I’ll bet every one of these people sitting here tonight could care less if another developer came here. We don’t want that kind of development.”

Cobblestone resident Lenora Zedowski agreed.

“Developers come and go,” Zedowski said.  “We are the permanent residents of Blythewood. Please repeal section (H).”

Council and residents say section (H), which was adopted in 2015, is an unintended loophole in the ordinance that allows developers to clear cut lots. The Planning Commission, however, agreed with the developers and voted to recommend Council not delete Section (H).

Section (H) states that those projects are exempt ‘which have received major subdivision or site plan approval prior to the effective date of this subchapter and amended major subdivision and site plans.’

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