A near miss


After narrowly avoiding development, oldest and largest live oak in Beaufort County on the path to preservation

By Tony Kukulich


BEAUFORT — For nearly four centuries, the Cherry Hill Plantation live oak, which rivals Charleston’s beloved Angel Oak in both size and age, stood while its contemporaries fell victim to storms or the ax.

Then, late last summer, the giant oak faced its own existential threat: a developer announced plans to build approximately 200 apartments and six townhomes on the 12-acre site surrounding the tree.

The zoning for the property, which is off Oak View Road sandwiched between Parris Island Gateway and the marshes on the west bank of Battery Creek, allows a maximum of 2½ stories. Spartanburg-based Johnson Development Associates wanted to build three-story buildings.

The developer appeared before the Port Royal’s design review board in September to request a building variance.

After enthusiastic public opposition, the board voted unanimously to deny the request, which the developer subsequently withdrew.

“It’s definitely a near miss,” master arborist Michael Murphy said. 

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