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Tree Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, May 07, 2015

TREE COMMISSION
Minutes May 7, 2015
 
CALL TO ORDER – Chair Gregg Trunnell called the meeting of the Ashland Tree Commission to order at 6:00 p.m. on May 7, 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, absent
Gregg Trunnell 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/Schmidt  m/s to approve the minutes of the April 9, 2015 Tree Commission meeting.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, minutes were approved as presented.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one present spoke.
 
TYPE 1 REVIEWS
PLANNING ACTION:                        PA-2015-00510
SUBJECT PROPERTY:                    843-855 Liberty St
OWNERS/APPLICANTS:                 James Juarez (855 Liberty Street)
Charlie Hamilton/Suncrest Homes (843 Liberty Street)
DESCRIPTION: A request for a Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permit to allow for the construction of a fire apparatus access turn-around on hillside lands to serve the properties at 843 and 855 Liberty Street. The request also includes a request to remove one tree, a 19-inch diameter at breast height Pine Tree.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Rural Residential & Woodland Residential; ZONING: RR-.5-P & WR; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 16AC; TAX LOTS: 201 & 202
 
All of the Commissioners did a site visit, and Roland noted that he had previously climbed this tree and others on John Baxter’s property.
 
Associate City Planner Derek Severson gave a staff report.  He explained that this application is for a Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permit (P & E) to construct a fire truck apparatus turn-around within an area that exceeds 25% grade and is on the City of Ashland‘s adopted Hillside Lands Overlay Map.  Included in the hillside development permit is also a request to remove one 19” diameter Pine Tree located in the area of the turnaround.  The proposed location for the turnaround is necessary in order  to serve the two lots and minimize the disturbance in the area. 
 
Mark Knox, Urban Development Services was present to represent the applicants.  Mr. Knox called attention to the fact that the fire department required a fire truck turnaround for these two properties before they could begin development.   Due to the dimensional requirements of the turn-around, the necessary retaining walls and the physical constraints of the area surroundings, the Pine Tree will need to be removed as it sits at the edge of a cut bank with some exposed roots and is directly within the cut area.  
 
Mr. Knox said there had been some discussion regarding an easement with the neighbors at 831 Liberty. If the neighbors granted an easement there is a possibility of adjusting the turn-around area which might allow the tree to be saved.  It was suggested that an arborist look at the tree and the exposed roots to confirm whether it could be saved or not and if the tree roots could be avoided during construction.
 
John Baxter and Kelly Weisheipl 831 Liberty Street spoke.  Mr. Baxter expressed their concern over the removal of the Pine tree.  He conveyed that the area has had a beetle infestation in combination with drought killing some of the trees but this particular Pine Tree appears to be healthy. If at all possible they would like to see it saved. Mr. Baxter pointed out that he and Ms. Weisheiple recently met with the applicant, Mr. Hamilton,  to discuss the possibility of an easement on their property. An easement might allow adjusting the configuration of the turn-around possibly then saving the tree.  Mr. Hamilton assured them he is open to the possibility of an easement and reconfiguration of the turn-around but would like to have a decision made this evening regarding the tree removal in order to move forward with the project n the event the easement does not work out.  
 
Roland/Neff m/s to approve the plan as is with the caveat that somebody goes back out to review the plan for any adjustments that could be made with an easement so that the tree can be saved.  If it’s determined that the  tree is to be removed the Commission recommends mitigation on the site.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed
 
PLANNING ACTION:                        PA-2015-00576
SUBJECT PROPERTY:                    913 Pinecrest Terrace
APPLICANT:                                     Suncrest Homes
DESCRIPTION: A request for a Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit to construct a new single family residence and associated site improvements on Hillside Lands for the property located at 913 Pinecrest Terrace. The proposal includes the removal of 35 oak, Madrone and pine trees located within the building envelope or within the area to be excavated for the construction of the driveway, patio and landscaped areas.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single-Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-10; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 15BC; TAX LOT: 2700
 
All the Commissioners did a site visit. The Commissioners expressed their confusion over which trees were being removed because a great deal of the trees were marked though the application just stated the removal of 35 trees.
 
Severson gave a staff report explaining this planning action is  a Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit as the applicants are requesting to construct a new residence on Hillside Lands.
 
Applicant Charlie Hamilton was present to answer questions.  Mr. Hamilton confirmed there would be a tree protection plan done and tree verification before any of them will be removed, and that only 19 trees were proposed for removal but that some clustered trees were identified based on their multiple trunks in the inventory. Mr. Hamilton explained this property is .8 of an acre.  Originally the owners of the property were interested in splitting the lot but then realized the creation of the required road would  take out a great deal of trees.  The applicants then made the decision to not divide the lot and put the house close to the street in order to preserve as many trees as possible.  The Commissioners acknowledged their appreciation that the owners made a great effort to save trees.  Roland noted that Tree #90 was a great specimen and that its removal was unfortuneate; it was noted that this was considered a significant tree based on its diameter and would be mitigated.
 
Schmidt/John m/s to approve the tree removal as presented with mitigation of the one large tree (#90).  Voice Vote:  All ayes, motion passed.
 
PLANNING ACTIONS:                     2015-00194 & -00195
SUBJECT PROPERTIES:                545-550 Holly Street
APPLICANT:                                     Jennifer Davis (545 Holly Street)
Chad Brown & Trisha Vaughn (550 Holly Street)
DESCRIPTION: A request for a Hazard Tree Removal Permit to remove five trees from the property located at 545 Holly St, including three cottonwoods and two elms, and a request for a Hazard Tree Removal Permit to remove one approximately 18-inch diameter breast height Cottonwood for the property located at 550 Holly Street.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 09DB; TAX LOT: 8900 & 90002.
 
All the Commissioners did a site visit, and Roland noted that he had previously done work on these properties. 
 
Severson gave a staff report.  He explained that this is a request for a Hazard Tree Removal for five trees located at 545 Holly and one 18“diameter cottonwood located at 550Holly.  The applicant has concerns that the drainage has destabilized the root systems.   Other trees in the neighborhood have recently fallen. The neighbors across the street have expressed concern that the trees might fall and damage their homes. Consequently they are encouraging the removal of the trees. 
 
Applicant Trisha Vaughn 550 Holly Street was present to answer questions.
 
The Commissioners agreed that these trees are a hazard and could fall at any time.  The applicant isn’t sure at this time what to plant.  The Commissioners were concerned that when the trees are removed erosion problems might begin.  They suggested putting trees back in order to hold the bank in.   The agreed not to require one for one mitigation, but recommended that appropriate riparian vegetation be planted following tree removal to help stabilize the bank on the subject properties.  Commissioners noted that a mitigation plan to address bank stability should be provided addressing proposed plantings and might best incorporate geo-jute matting to stabilize the bank until plantings can establish themselves.  Appropriate mitigation plantings could include, but would not be limited to, Oregon Ash or River Birch. 
 
Trunnell/ Roland m/s to approve the application as presented.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed
 
 
DISCUSSION ITEMS
Downtown Beautification Project – Landscape Architect Kerry KenCairn is consulting with  the City of Ashland on the Downtown Beautification project.  Ms. KenCairn gave a presentation explaining three proposed projects for the downtown area. 
 
  • Winburn Way Tree  located  in front of Gateway Realty’s office - This project will create more soil volume for the tree that is located there by expanding the planter area by approximately four feet on the sides without changing grades. The plan is to remove all the concrete surrounding the tree along with the bench and put the footing for the new bench under the sidewalk thus providing more soil under the tree, giving more space for the tree. The goal is to maintain a sitting area. 
  • Pioneer at Lithia Way - The goal is to redesign the corner area. There is a seat/retaining wall, small planter and a larger planter up against the building.  Re-doing the retaining wall will provide a small amount of landscaping area. Ms. KenCairn said the plan is to remove three trees and plant two giving them more soil volume.  The trees currently there are challenged due to lack of enough water. 
  • Pioneer Parking lot - The plan is to replace the trees with American ash, adding walkways and a barrier along the sidewalk to discourage people from walking through that area.
 
The Commissioners discussed the different tree options for replanting.  Ms. KenCairn said they are open to recommendations.  She confirmed there will be trunk protection of the trees until their crown can take over by themselves.  The Commissioners expressed their concern over the watering of the new trees during a drought.  Ms. KenCairn acknowledged the planting will take place in the fall.  Some suggestions were, planting in grow bags/gaiters for the slow release of water.
 
NEW BUSINESS ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Parks Department arborist Peter Baughman said the Arbor Day Tree planting at the new Ashland Creek Park located at 27 E Hersey went great. He thanked everyone who made it down to take part.  Currently he is hand watering the tree and taking good care of it until irrigation is installed. 
 
City Planner Zachariah Heck was the only person representing the Tree Commission at the Earth Day celebration. Heck pointed out that his mother is a teacher and gave him tree books to hand out to kids along with Douglas Fir tree cookies. Next year he would like to encourage some of the Commissioners to attend who could provide more information about trees.
Severson announced the City is planning a volunteer appreciation day on August 30, 2015 at Oak Knoll golf course.   Anyone that serves on a Commission will be invited.
 
Severson confirmed at this time there is no application for the removal of the Clay street tree.  He also announced that in the next month or two Heck will be the new Staff Liaison for the Tree Commissioner.
 
Severson briefly outlined the guidelines in regards to expressing public opinion about any proposal the Commission is likely to hear as a Tree Commissioner.  When Land Use Actions come before the Commission there are strict City and State guidelines in terms of how to review the action.   The Commission’s decision is to be transparent and occurs based on information everyone has access to at the meeting.  If as a Commissioner you come to the meeting and have already pre judged the application and you are not able to make a decision based on what happens in the meeting then that’s getting rid of the transparency of that process.  Severson asked the questions “Have you formed an opinion before the meeting?” “Is everyone considering the request based on the same information?”  The concern is for the integrity of the process in the Commissioners’ quasi-judicial roles, and he emphasized Commissioners must make clear any bias at the beginning of the meeting and not be a part of the discussion if they cannot rule impartially. 
 
Severson emphasized that the process needs to be handled correctly so that if any project gets challenged it needs to be challenged on the facts not on a procedure error on somebody’s part.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Next meeting:  June 4, 2015
Respectively submitted by Carolyn Schwendener
 
 

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