Lexington County leaders are looking to save more trees as new neighborhoods sprout.
County Council took the first step toward that goal Tuesday in agreeing to consider requiring developers to establish a landscape buffer around the edges of new subdivisions. The plan would limit clear-cutting of tracts for homes, a practice that stirs complaints because of lost foliage in the steadily growing county.
Council members didn’t settle on a buffer size, although some of the nine members said a 20-foot width seems sufficient without inconveniencing builders.
Requiring buffers would preserve scenery and reduce erosion that can lead to pollution in streams and lakes, Councilwoman Erin Long Bergeson of Chapin said.
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Some developers voluntarily include buffers in the design of new neighborhoods. But it’s time to stop “knocking down big trees” to make it easier to build, Councilman Darrell Hudson of Lexington said.
Buffers “are not always going to be practical” because of terrain, said Earl McLeod, executive director of the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina. “There’s going to have to be some flexibility.”
Builders already must maintain a 100-foot buffer around streams, a county requirement they want to cut in half, as well as ensure that landscaping surrounds new stores, offices and industry.
The bid to save more greenery comes amid predictions that the county’s estimated population of 290,000 residents will double by 2050.
County development officials will bring suggestions on buffers back to council members in mid-summer.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483