BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Thursday the City of Biloxi planning commission voted to create a tree committee. Next, council members have to vote on whether the tree committee will or will not be reinstated.
The city once had a tree committee years ago, and now several Biloxians feel with all the development going on, tree preservation is taking a back seat. But after Thursday's decision by the planning commission, those in favor of the committee feel their voices are being heard.
"People come from all over and the one comment they make is that they love the oak trees," said one proponent.
One by one people in favor of a tree committee told members of the Biloxi Planning Commission why they feel a tree committee is necessary.
"We lost so much in Katrina that it just seems the right thing to do to try to preserve what we still have," Deanne Neuwer said.
Without any opposition, the commission voted to approve a tree committee. Those who came to the meeting said they don't want tree preservation to hinder development.
"I think that this is going to help the City of Biloxi. Biloxi is a tree city. We have been a tree city for a good number of years. We have an annual Arbor Day run. This is going to validate the fact that Biloxi values its natural resources. We all love the beach. We love the water and the trees are right up there with it," said Neuwer.
Neuwer said she thinks the live oaks will entice more developers to want to build in this area. However, another proponent of the tree committee said there needs to be clear rules for the protected trees so no time and money is wasted.
"Developers aren't just coming in with a thousand dollars in their pocket. These are million dollar projects. If we want serious development in Biloxi, then we need to be serious about our definitions and what we want for our city and have that clearly laid out," said Elizabeth Englebretso.
If the city council approves the tree committee it would be made up of seven people representing each ward and they would only be allowed to make recommendations on issues concerning the city's trees.
The trees cut for the Walmart Marketplace, the 19 live oak trees cut down for the baseball stadium and the proposal to cut down trees for a proposed hotel off Highway 90 are what sparked the discussion of a need for a tree committee.