Westbranch Tree Violation
Recently, Mecklenburg County and town staff were alerted to a potential violation of the approved construction documents for West Branch. After investigating, Lennar has violated the approved master plan as well as the new tree ordinance. As a result, they are subject to civil penalties associated with the trees that were removed illegally. In addition, they will be required to submit a tree mitigation (re-planting) plan to be approved by the town. Finally, the town has put a stop work order on the 10 lots that were cleared. In addition, the town will put a hold on building permits for the final 19 lots in the development until Lennar responds appropriately to reconcile the situation.
We are currently assessing what the civil penalties should be. The penalties are based on the diameters and quantities of trees. The penalties are difficult to precisely determine because a)removal has left little evidence of what was there and b) we don’t know what trees could legally have been cut (e.g., trees in the building envelope). Because they did this illegally, we have no choice at this point but to include all of the removed trees over a certain diameter which, in turn, results in a very large penalty.