Wednesday, July 19, 2023 Background

July 2023 South Coast Newsletter: Town of Port Royal Protects County’s Largest Oak

by Lily Abromeit

Cherry Hill Oak. Photo by Hope Cunningham, Friends of Cherry Hill Oak

In June, the Town of Port Royal proclaimed their support for permanent protection of the Cherry Hill Oak. The Cherry Hill Oak is Beaufort County’s largest live oak and by some measurements is bigger than John’s Island’s famous Angel Oak. Cherry Hill Oak is a massive fixture towering over a 12-acre property abutting Battery Creek. The property also features the grave of Mary Pope, who lies at the base of the Cherry Hill Oak.

Thanks to a collaborative effort between local government, community, and conservation groups, this property is well on its way to being a publicly accessible passive park for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

Alarmingly, this tract was targeted for development as recently as last fall, when a Charlotte-based firm sought  to build a 3-story apartment complex.

Renderings presented to Port Royal’s Design Review Board showed traffic circulating around the base of the Cherry Hill Oak. The Conservation League, members of the Pinckney Retreat neighborhood, and arborist Michael Murphy all spoke out against the height variance request that would allow this, which was eventually denied. The developers walked away from the project and the owners soon after filed an application with the Beaufort County Rural & Critical Lands Program

The Conservation League is grateful for Hope Cunningham, a Port Royal community member who established the Friends of the Cherry Hill Oak Foundation to assist with stewardship and maintenance of the Cherry Hill Oak property. We are also thankful to the Port Royal Town Council for its recent proclamation, as well as recent investments in infrastructure and landscaping.  

Read the full July 2023 newsletter here.

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