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Tree Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, April 09, 2015



TREE COMMISSION
Minutes April 9, 2015
 
CALL TO ORDER – Vice Chair Ken Schmidt called the meeting of the Ashland Tree Commission to order at 6:00 p.m. on April 9, 2015 in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development and Engineering Services Building located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, Oregon.
 
Commissioners Council Liaison
Ken Schmidt Carol Voisin
Gregg Trunnell, absent Staff
Russ Neff Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Casey Roland Carolyn Schwendener, Admin
Christopher John Pete Baughman, Parks Liaison
  Zechariah Heck, Assistant Planner
 
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Neff/Roland m/s to approve the minutes of the March 5, 2015 Tree Commission meeting.  Minutes were approved as presented.
 
AUDIENCE INTRODUCTIONS
Brandon Goldman - Senior Planner for the City of Ashland was present to speak to the agenda item “Wildlife Zone Code Changes.”
 
Michael Dawkins - Planning Commissioner was present to observe the meeting.
 
Ron Roth – Ashland citizen for 39 years was present to speak at the public forum.
 
Maureen Battistella – Introduced herself and expressed her interest in joining the Tree Commission
 
Zechariah Heck – New City Planner who replaced Michael Piña was introduced to the Commission.
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS & LIAISON REPORTS
City Council Liaison Voisin gave a Council update.  The Council made the decision to appoint Police Sergeant Tighe O’Meara as the acting Police Chief while the City is waiting to do interview for the new Chief.  The Council passed a $75,000 allocation for a Public Arts Commission project at the alleyway next to the Varsity Theater.  This was part of the Downtown Beautification project.  The Council passed the $38 million dollar capital improvement project that was needed to keep infrastructure up to date and in good order.  The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with ODOT for the Welcome Center was approved. Voisin said that the Lithia Artisan Market will be hanging pennants on two light poles along Winburn Way.  The Council agreed to not charge the Chamber of Commerce for the Halloween Parade as they designated the parade a special event.  The second reading of Accessory Travelers Accommodation Ordinance was passed.  
 
Parks & Recreation Liaison – Baughman reminded the Commissioners of the Arbor Day tree planting tomorrow April 10, 2015 at 10:00 am at the new City Park located at 27 East Hersey.  Roland is providing the tree and any help with the planting will be much appreciated.
 
Community Development Liaison – Severson acknowledged that several newspaper articles have recently been written regarding the removal of the tree located at 380 Clay Street.  The articles stated that the Tree Commission would be reviewing the tree removal at this evening’s meeting.  That is incorrect.  It is not on the agenda and an application has not been submitted at this time.  Severson cautioned the Commissioners that if anyone speaks about the tree this evening during public forum not to engage in the conversation.  The application will most likely be submitted in the next month or two at which time the Commissioners will review it as a quasi-judicial matter. 
 
Severson called attention to the Tree City USA plaque that the City of Ashland recently received.  Ashland is one of only three cities in the State of Oregon to be awarded the designation of Tree City USA for thirty years or more.  The City also received a flag which was suggested to be used at the Arbor Day Celebration event. 
 
PUBLIC FORUM
Ron Roth, 6950 Old Hwy 99 South Mr. Roth asked a few rhetorical questions.  What is the definition of a hazard tree?  Does a licensed arborist have to give a report explaining why a tree is designated hazardous?  What is a Heritage Tree?  Is extra protection provided for a Heritage Tree? Should a Tree of the Year automatically become a Heritage Tree? Mr. Roth is interested in the preservation of the Cottonwood Tree located at 380 Clay Street.  He will attend the Tree Commission meeting when the Commissioners review the application for the removal of that tree. 
 
Rich Rosenthal, 1228 Rose LaneMr. Rosenthal congratulated staff in achieving the thirty year designation for Tree City USA.  He suggested after the Arbor Day festivities that the Flag should fly at City Hall.  Mr. Rosenthal pointed out that the membership of the Tree Commission has been consistently small.  This is a seven member Commission though there is seldom more than four members present at any given meeting, stated Mr. Rosenthal.  He encouraged the Commissioners to help with the recruiting of more members as it would be great to have a full membership. 
 
At the March City Council meeting the Tree Commission Chair, Gregg Trunnell, presented the annual report. Mr. Rosenthal suggested that the Tree Commission review their process in the selection and methodology of selecting the Tree of the Year.  When a tree selection is involved in a major land use consideration it may appear that the Commission, a Commissioner or Commissioners are involved in manipulating that land use consideration.
 
Mr. Rosenthal emphasized that the Commissioners need to be aware of what the message and content is that is presented to the City Council from the Tree Commission.  Be aware of what the comments are, your signatures are on it, know what the message is. 
 
Voisin asked Mr. Rosenthal if he was speaking as a City Councilor or citizen.  He confirmed he was speaking as a citizen.
 
TYPE 1 REVIEWS
PLANNING ACTION:         PA-2015-00423                                  
SUBJECT PROPERTY:     Vacant lot to the east of 308 Laurel St.
APPLICANT:                        Urban Development Services LLC
OWNER:                               Fred Cox
DESCRIPTION:                   A request for a Site Review approval to construct a new 9,876 square foot, two and one half-story mixed-use building on the vacant property located between 145 E Hersey and 308 N Laurel Street.  Four residential units above the ground floor commercial space is proposed. The request includes an exception to reduce the required sidewalk width from eight feet to six feet to accommodate an on-street parking bay.
 
Mark Knox, Urban Development Services was present to represent the applicant and answer any questions. The applicant is requesting to construct a two story mixed-use building on Hersey Street between Helman and Laurel. Mr. Knox explained that Tom Madera prepared the landscaping plans which are pretty basic. 
 
The Commissioners asked the applicant if he would be willing to plant 3” caliper trees rather than the proposed 1.5” caliper.  The applicant agreed.
 
Neff/John m/s to approve the landscaping plan.  Motion was approved
 
PLANNING ACTION:         PA-2015-00425                  
SUBJECT PROPERTY:     185 Skycrest 
APPLICANT:                        Eric Hansen
DESCRIPTION:                  A request for Physical and Environmental Constraints Review approval to allow for the construction of a new single family home, garage and carport.  The request includes approval for development on Severe Constraints Land and a request to remove five Madrone trees greater than six-inches in diameter at breast height. The subject property is located at 185 Skycrest.
 
Severson handed out a revised landscaping plan and explained that this is a hillside property which is subject to the Physical & Environmental Constraints Ordinance.  The applicant is requesting to remove five Madrone trees greater than six-inches in diameter at breast height.  All five of these trees are located within the building envelope. 
 
Schmidt, Neff and John did a site visit Casey did not. The Commissioners suggested replacing one of the proposed trees possibly the Sugartime Crabapple with a native tree such as an Oak 1 ½ “ to 2” caliper ten foot native tree was suggested.
 
John/Roland m/s to approve the landscaping plan with the recommendation of the tree substitution.  Motion passed
 
PLANNING ACTION:         PA-2015-00541
SUBJECT PROPERTY:     345 Lithia Way
OWNER/APPLICANT:       Hays Oil, Kistler, Small & White Architects for Double R Products
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a modification of a previously approved Site Review approval (PA-2014-01226) to convert the Lithia Way Texaco located at 345 Lithia Way into a retail and restaurant establishment. The proposal is to add an outdoor seating area adjacent to the building on the south façade adjacent to Lithia Way and modification to the proposed exterior finishes. 
 
All the Commissioners did a site visit.  Severson reminded the Commissioners they saw this application in a different form back in September. The applicants are requesting to make some exterior changes to the building.  This proposal is not modifying their landscaping very much.  The Commissioners discussed the width of the planters for the trees.  They appear to be two to three feet wide. Would structural soil be appropriate?  A root barrier along the sidewalk edge was suggested. It was also conveyed that a continuous tree pit would be a better choice rather than the three holes so that the roots can spread out. A typical street tree grate is five by five. 
 
The Commissioners agreed that a narrower exposed planting area would be acceptable with structural soil to accommodate the roots better.  The more area the trees have the less problems they will have down the road.  Consider tree protection on the inside edge.
 
Neff/John m/s to accept the landscaping plan with the suggested recommendations.  Motion passed
 
PLANNING ACTION:         PA-2015-00568
SUBJECT PROPERTY:     854 A Street
OWNER/APPLICANT:       Ilene Rubenstien/Mark Frueh
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a Tree Removal Permit to remove a hazard tree - an approximately 30-inch diameter Black Locust - from the property at 854 A Street.  (Another tree, also an approximately 30-inch diameter Black Locust was approved for immediate removal as an emergency because the soil and roots at its base had begun to heave and the tree was leaning at approximately a 45 degree angle and posed an immediate risk to structures and people in the vicinity.)
 
All the Commissioners did a site visit. Severson explained that due to the amount of material coming out of the top of the tree and the danger it proposed the applicant was given permission to trim it.  The Commission did not feel the tree had a lot of long term viability left.
 
Roland/John m/s to approve removal with mitigation to follow.  Motion passed.
 
 
PLANNING ACTION:         PA-2015-00603
SUBJECT PROPERTY:     95 North Main Street
OWNER/APPLICANT:       Durant-Newton Trust/Randy Mason
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a Tree Removal Permit to remove a hazard tree - an approximately 14-inch diameter Almond - from the rear of Brother’s Restaurant at 95 North Main Street.  The project arborist notes that the tree is growing against the deck and roof and damaging the existing structure on the property
 
All the Commissioners did a site visit.  Severson said that the Arborist indicated that the tree is damaging the roof structure and will continue to do so if they don‘t remove it.  Severson will make sure they have permission from the neighbor before the removal of the tree.  
 
John/Roland m/s to remove the tree.  Motion passed
 
 
PLANNING ACTION:         PA-2014-02106                                  
SUBJECT PROPERTY:     2352 Morada Ln.
APPLICANT/OWNER:       Ron & Lisa Albano
DESCRIPTION:                  The Planning Commission will review staff’s approval of a request for Site Review and Conditional Use Permit approvals to construct a new approximately 1,000 square foot accessory residential unit behind the existing home at 2352 Morada Lane.  The item is being considered by the Planning Commission to correct an error in the mailing of the notice of decision. [NOTE: The Tree Commission initially reviewed and made recommendations on this item at the regular meeting on January 8, 2015.]    
 
The Commission had recently reviewed this planning action but Severson explained that due to a clerical noticing error this action will be going before the Planning Commission.  A neighbor was not properly noticed and requested the opportunity to express their concerns.
 
After a quick overview of the prior recommendations Neff//John m/s to let the prior motion stand.  Motion approved.
 
 
DISCUSSION ITEMS
Wildfire Zone Code Changes – City Planner Brandon Goldman and Ashland Fire and Rescue Division Chief Chris Chambers gave a review of the proposed changes to the wildfire zone.  
 
On April 15, 2014 the Ashland City Council was presented with a wildfire land hazard analysis that was done by Ashland Fire and Rescue.  They are looking at expanding that wildfire zone throughout the city.  The expansion will have a number of land use implications.  Currently when a building permit is applied for and the property is in a wild fire hazard area there are requirements for primary and secondary fuel breaks. 
 
Chambers gave an overview of how the ordinance came about.  The Commissioners discussed some of the guidelines surrounding this ordinance.  Goldman and Chambers explained that they are hoping to come back to the Tree Commission with a draft ordinance at the June meeting to get the Tree Commissions formal recommendation that will be presented to the Planning Commission and then City Council.   In the meantime while this Ordinance is being drafted Goldman would appreciate any feedback from the Tree Commission as well as others within the community.
 
NEW BUSINESS ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
The Commissions agreed they are interested in having a table at the Earth Day Celebration.  Roland will bring some small trees.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at  7:25p.m.
Next meeting:  May 7, 2015
Respectively submitted by Carolyn Schwendener
 

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