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PORT ROYAL -- A Charleston contractor found out the expensive way that the town of Port Royal takes its trees seriously.
After trimming 24 live oaks without a permit, the tree-cutter was issued a fine of $27,187.50. The fine includes $1,087.50 for not having a business license and $1,087.50 per tree, according to the town.
The latest tree-cutting follows two incidents that led the town to crack down on chopping: an attempt to cut down a 71-inch-wide live oak at the corner of Ninth Street and London Avenue and clear-cutting of 25 acres in Azalea Square in March 2007.
In response, the Town Council in July added a requirement that an arborist must evaluate trees more than 36 inches in diameter or any live oaks before they can be trimmed or cut.
Patrick Rice, foreman for LA New Power Washing of Charleston, was issued the fine for trimming 24 live oaks without a license at the BP gas station at the intersection of S.C. 802 and U.S. 170, according to town reports.
The 15-year-old trees, which were severely cut back, need to be replaced, which will cost the owner about $158,000, according to Dan Lemieux, who is responsible for issuing town permits to trim trees.
Port Royal requires a trimming license and permit: $15 for a residential property and $100 for commercial property.
Rice requested a jury trial in the Port Royal municipal court to appeal his fine. Kim Vandeusen, the municipal court administrator, said the case might not be heard until fall. Rice could not be reached for comment.