Aransas County Commissioners, at their regular meeting Monday, Nov. 8, unanimously approved Order #O-14-2021 (repealing Ordinance 1-2010) entitled “Regulations for the Cutting of Live Oak Trees in the Unincorporated Areas of Aransas County.” The Order establishes protections for live oak trees, creates the Aransas County Tree Committee, and sets forth County requirements and procedures, enforcement, violations, penalties, mitigation guidelines, and a fee schedule.
Assistant County Attorney Jennifer O’Steen said the need to clean up the county rules regarding live oak trees was brought to her attention earlier this year after a clear cutting incident.
“It was clear we needed to tell developers what is expected,” said O’Steen.
She noted new state legislation allows counties to take the action they are considering.
Under the new Order, one can’t cut down a live oak tree, without the approval of the tree committee, and ultimately commissioners’ court, that is greater than six inches in diameter, measured at least four feet from the ground.
The fine for doing so will be up to $500 per tree. There are other remedies available, as well.
“The idea is it should be a little bit painful (if one cuts down a protected tree),” said O’Steen.
Commissioner Wendy Laubach asked why it is called an Order, versus an ordinance.
“The statute calls for it to be an Order,” said O’Steen.
She added the commissioners can’t approve a developer’s plans unless a tree plan is approved.