Updated 3:17 p.m.
The town of Matthews has fined a developer $50,000 for cutting trees that were supposed to be saved on the site of a new apartment and townhome complex on Monroe Road.
Workers with Taft Development Group of Greenville, North Carolina, cut about 30,000 square feet of trees as site work began for Proximity Matthews. The 250-unit project is across Monroe Road from the Family Dollar headquarters.
Town officials said they believe the cutting along the front and side of the property was "an inadvertent error, and Taft Development Group has expressed their sincere apologies."
The $50,000 fine is the maximum allowed under the town ordinance. The town says Taft has taken responsibility for the cutting, and offered another $100,000 to replant trees and improve landscaping.
It appears that workers cut exactly the trees marked "tree save area" on the approved development plans. But that wasn't on the drawings the tree cutters used, said Matthews Mayor Paul Bailey.
“Somewhere in the process of developing the drawings for the group that was clearing the property, they failed to properly designate the tree-save area,” he said.
Bailey said he first noticed the cutting two Mondays ago, because it looked like a lot. He said state law limits how many trees the town can require be saved.
“It was just a stark example of how many trees get taken out when a developer clears a property,” Bailey said.
Matthews town planning staff also spotted the inappropriate cutting and began investigating. They announced the fine Wednesday.
Taft Development officials did not respond to a request for comment. Bailey said they were at Monday’s town commission meeting, where they apologized and made the $100,000 pledge. The town said Taft is working with the Board of Commissioners and town staff as well as residents to come up with a new landscaping plan for the areas that were cut.
The town said the tree cutting did not affect the historic Roseland Cemetery, at the rear of the property. Plans for Proximity call for a new fence around the cemetery, with public access by a new walkway from the complex's parking lot.
WFAE’s Jennifer Lang contributed to this story.
March 13, 2019, MatthewsNC.gov, "Tree Clearing on Monroe Road" announcement