Agendas and Minutes

Tree Commission (View All)

Tree Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, February 04, 2016

TREE COMMISSION MINUTES
February 4, 2016
 
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Gregg Trunnell called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development and Engineering Offices located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland OR 97520.
 
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Gregg Trunnell Carol Voisin
Mike Oxendine  
Casey Roland  
Christopher John Parks Liaison
Maureen Battistella Peter Baughman
   
Commissioners Absent: Staff Present
Russell Neff Derek Severson, Associate Planner
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Roland/John m/s to approve the minutes of the January 7, 2016 Tree Commission regular meeting with a correction to clarify that in Planning Action #2015-02381 the Commission was not supportive of the removal of the Atlas Cedar (Tree #11). Voice Vote: All Ayes, minutes were approved as amended.
 
Roland/John m/s to approve the minutes of the December 10, 2015 Tree Commission Study Session.   (Wild Fire Ordinance)  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, minutes were approved as presented. 
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS & LIAISON REPORTS
City Council – Voisin reported that the Council is currently looking at a City Hall replacement.  The current City Hall is needing a very expensive retrofitting for seismic upgrades. The Council is discussing three possible alternatives; relocate to the Lithia/Pioneer Parking lot, adding a second floor on the Community Development Building and looking at the Council Chamber complex on East Main. Council has put out a request for proposals (RFP) in the amount of $88,000 for a consultant to look at these choices and other possibilities. 
 
Voisin reported at the Council Study Session it was determined the City would do three things to address the bad behavior problems in the downtown area.
 
  1. Add two additional student cadets.
  2. Find volunteers for an ambassador program.
  3. Issue an RFP in the amount of $37,000 to the social service organizations to provide social workers.
 
The Council agreed to put a three percent recreational marijuana sales tax on the November ballot, will continue the plastic bag ban, and are working on an ordinance to prohibit smoking downtown.  Property owner, Alan Sandler, is requesting an airspace encroachment over the sidewalk at 25 North Main Street to construct a balcony in conjunction with seismic upgrades to his buildings.  There are several trees street trees located in front of his property that might be impacted. RVTD is requesting a levy on the November ballot asking for a property tax increase.
 
Parks – Baughman reported that the Parks Department is moving their offices to the Grove Building located at 1195 East Main next to the police department.  Currently is undergoing a remodel. 
 
Staff – Severson invited the Commissioners to the February 23rd Planning Commission Study Session at Council Chambers at 7:00pm.  The Council will be looking at the Fire Wise Code changes including the plant list on tonight’s agenda.    
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one present spoke.
 
STREE TREE REMOVAL PERMIT REVIEW
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 136 B Street
APPLICANT: Gerald & Dorothy Brooks (Beaver Tree Service)
DESCRIPTION: A request to remove a 28-inch diameter Box Elder street tree from the park row planting strip in front of 136 B Street.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09BA; TAX LOT: 12100.
 
Severson explained usually this Commission does not review Street tree removal permits. However after the controversy surrounding the street tree permit to remove a locust tree at 338 B Street staff determined it would be beneficial to have this Commission review this application.  Severson acknowledged that after reviewing the arborist report there didn’t seem to be a very strong case for a hazard tree.
 
All the Commissioners noted having done a site visit.
 
The applicant, Gerald Brooks, 136 B Street spoke.  Mr. Brooks explained why they wanted to remove the tree.  In December a branch fell across B Street which the city cleaned up.  Fortunately no damage was done to any cars or people.  This is a big tree, old and near the end of its life, large limbs have decay, pruning might prolong the life of the tree, but won’t prevent other branches from falling. Mr. Brooks is concerned this tree might drop limbs on someone in the future.  He is willing to mitigate.
 
Roland noted that the recent limb break was a deep socket tear that will not heal and will always be an issue for the continued health of the tree.  After discussion by the Commissioners the following motion was made.
 
Trunnell/Battistella m/s to recommend the tree be removed however we would like to provide a 30-day window in which the neighboring property will have the opportunity to comment.  Further recommended that the tree be mitigated with a tree from the Recommended Street Tree Guide’s five foot park row list and that the city consider installing test rubber sidewalk panels in the area.  Voice Vote; All Ayes.
 
TYPE I REVIEWS
 
PLANNING ACTION: PA-2015-01685                                                
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  321 Clay Street
APPLICANT: Canopy LLC
DESCRIPTION: A request to remove a White Alder (Alnus rhombifolia) tree at the subject property. The tree is approximately 50 feet tall and 16.5 inches in diameter at breast height. The tree is located behind space # 3 on Key Drive. The arborist notes that the tree is a hazard and is not suitable for pruning in order to alleviate the hazardous nature.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 11C; TAX LOT: 3000.
 
Commissioner John recused himself as the agent for the owners on this application.  Severson provided a brief staff report and commissioners noted that the tree was leaning heavily toward a main electrical facility and that pruning would likely further destabilize the tree.  Commissioners further noted that the tree was in a riparian area and had likely already heavily seeded the area, making mitigation unnecessary.  The following motion was made.
 
Trunnell/Oxendine recommended the removal of the tree with no mitigation.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed.  (Batistella and John abstained)
 
PLANNING ACTION: PA-2015-02411                                                
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 763 South Mountain Avenue
APPLICANTS: Heartwood Tree Service
OWNERS: Ray Kistler
DESCRIPTION: A request to remove nine Ponderosa Pine trees from the property located at 763 South Mountain Avenue.  The trees were previously identified to be preserved and protected as part of the Mountain Pines Subdivision (PA #2004-00105) but have now been determined to be dying from pine beetle infestation by the applicant’s tree care professional.  
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-10; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 16AD; TAX LOT: #3404 
 
All the commissioners did a site visit.
 
Applicant, Camp Kaye from Heartwood Tree Service, P.O. Box 1173 Ashland spoke. Mr. Kaye acknowledged that these trees have pine beetle infestation.  These trees are turning brown and though they are not a hazard at this time he anticipates that all nine trees will be dead by summer.
 
The Commissioners discussed these trees and agreed they need to be removed. 
 
Roland/Oxendine m/s to approve removal of the nine ponderosa pine trees as presented with mitigation one for one with a tree other than ponderosa pines.  The use of incense cedars or hardwoods is recommended, and the Commission strongly recommends careful irrigation of remaining trees and the proposed mitigation trees to a depth of at least 18-inches, that the trees be well-mulched, and that no cuts be made to remaining trees for the immediate future to avoid the spread of the beetle infestation.  The Commission also recommended that the applicant advise neighbors of the infestation and the need for prompt attention to avoid beetles spreading.  Commissioners recommended that given the hillside context, stumps not be deeply ground. Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed.
 
PLANNING ACTION: PA-2016-00142                                                
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 767 South Mountain Avenue
APPLICANTS: Heartwood Tree Service
OWNERS: Michael J. & Carrisma Donovan
DESCRIPTION: A request to remove one Ponderosa Pine trees from the property located at 763 South Mountain Avenue.  This tree was previously identified to be preserved and protected as part of the Mountain Pines Subdivision (PA #2004-00105) but has now been determined to be dying from pine beetle infestation by the applicants’ tree care professional.   COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-10; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 16AD; TAX LOT: #3405.
  
Trunnell/John m/s to approve the plan with the proposed mitigation.  As with the previous action, the Commission strongly recommends careful irrigation of remaining trees and the proposed mitigation trees to a depth of at least 18-inches, that the trees be well-mulched, and that no cuts be made to remaining trees for the immediate future to avoid the spread of the beetle infestation.  The Commission also recommended that the applicant advise neighbors of the infestation and of the need for prompt attention to avoid beetles spreading.  Commissioners recommended that given the hillside context, stumps not be deeply ground.  Voice Vote; All Ayes
 
PLANNING ACTION: PA-2016-00073                                                
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 151 North Pioneer Street
APPLICANTS: Elizabeth York
OWNERS: Elizabeth York
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Design Review approval to reconstruct a one-story commercial structure, consisting of an art gallery and studio for the property located at 151 North Pioneer Street. The property is located in the Railroad Addition Historic District and Detail Site Review overlay. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial; ZONING: C-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09BB; TAX LOT: #12700 
 
Severson gave a staff report. Severson explained that this application does not include a tree removal but the Commissioners need to look at the landscaping plan.  Roland recused himself because he has worked for this client in the past.

The Commissioners agreed this landscaping plan is a big improvement for the site and had no concerns.

PLANNING ACTION: PA-2016-00102                                                
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 538 Granite Street & 580 Ashland Creek Drive
APPLICANT: A to Z Tree Service Inc.
DESCRIPTION: A request to remove a 19 inch in diameter at breast height Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) tree on the subject properties. The tree has a significant lean with evidence of decay at root base and lower trunk. The arborist notes the subject tree is located among several large trees that, in the event of a failure, could topple adjacent trees in the area as well presenting a greater hazard to the existing dwelling.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Residential - Rural; ZONING: RR- .5; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 17AA; TAX LOT: 1109.
 
Severson gave a staff report explaining this project is coming before the commission because it’s on hillside land with slopes over twenty-five percent.  John was unable to find the tree on the site but the other commissioners did a site visit.  After a discussion the following motion was made.
 
Oxendine/Trunnell m/s to deny the tree removal request without prejudice and recommend that in a future application, a standard ISA risk assessment form be prepared for the tree.  Also recommended that in the interim, the downward side of the tree be pruned.   Commissioners noted without an ISA risk assessment form making clear how the hazard was determined, and with no one present to answer questions on behalf of the applicants, the Commission did not believe the burden of proof had been met.  Voice Vote; All Ayes (Roland abstained)
  
 TYPE II REVIEWS
 
PLANNING ACTION: PA #2016-00041                                                          
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 1465 Webster Street ((on the Southern Oregon University campus)
APPLICANT: Southern Oregon University 
DESCRIPTION: A request to modify PA #2015-00418 which granted Site Design Review and Conditional Use Permit approval for the renovation of McNeal Pavilion and construction of a new Student Recreation Center on the Southern Oregon University Campus 1465 Webster Street.  The previous approval included a Conditional Use Permit to allow the buildings to exceed the 40-foot height allowed in the SO zoning district, and Tree Removal Permits to remove nine trees 18-inches in diameter-at-breast-height (d.b.h.) or greater.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:  Southern Oregon University; ZONING:  SO: ASSESSOR’S MAP:  39 1E 10 CD; TAX LOT:  100
 
Oxendine recused himself as an employee of the University.  Severson reminded the Commission they saw this application not too long ago with the application to renovate McNeil Hall.  The Tree Commission’s recommendations went forward to the Planning Commission who adopted those recommendations.  This application is showing their modifications. 
 
Alan Pardee, representative for the applicant, Covey, Pardee Landscape Architect, 295 E Main St. Ashland spoke.  Mr. Pardee explained that the building is now somewhat smaller allowing them to retain more of the trees.  Mr. Pardee reviewed with the Commissioners the trees they have designated to be saved. 
 
Battistella/Roland m/s to accept the application as proposed.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed.
 
DISCUSSION ITEMS
Tree of the Year – The Commissioners discussed whether it was a good idea to allow a tree on City property to be nominated for Tree of the Year. A separate recognition award was suggested as a way to recognize individuals who have shown special interest and care for their trees.
 
The Commission recommended that any tree can be nominated if it is within the City of Ashland.  Once a tree has been nominated and won Tree of the Year it cannot be nominated again.  The Commission also asked that the nomination form have a place for name and address so that the form is not anonymous and multiple forms cannot be submitted by the same person.  Commissioners agreed with these recommendations with the exception of Battistella who expressed some concern about politicizing the award.   
 
Annual Council Update – Tentatively set of March 15, 2016 – The Council update is an opportunity for this Commission to explain the activities for the past year and to promote Arbor Day/Month.  The meeting will be televised. Vice Chair John volunteered to do the presentation at the meeting as Chair Trunnell will be unavailable.
 
Arbor Day 2016-Earth Day Event is April 23 (11:00 am to 4:00 p.m.) – Commissioners noted that they would look at options for Arbor Day and discuss at the March meeting.  The Commissioners agreed to have a booth at the Earth Day festivities.  John, Oxendine, Trunnell and Roland volunteered to help with the booth. 
 
Oxendine discussed his efforts with the University to bring James Urban, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects who is renowned for his expertise in urban arboriculture and soils to Ashland for a multi-day event in early April, and it was noted that this appearance might mesh well with Arbor Week activities.
 
NEW BUSINESS/ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Updating the AMC in include “Historic Houses” as areas of concern for tree preservation. – The Commissioners discussed the idea of changing the requirements for Planning Actions to be triggered in historic areas.  It was noted that residentially-zoned properties with only a single family residence are currently exempt from tree removal regulations citywide, and Oxendine noted that he would like to see a tree removal permit required to remove any tree over six-inches in historic districts.  Battistella recommended that the Historic Commission and the Tree Commission meet together to discuss this possibility. 
 
Fire Wise landscaping plant list – Severson reported that at next month’s Planning Commission Study Session they will be looking at the FireWise plant list.  Oxendine noted that he had begun a list of recommendations, but the Commission had not yet seen it and as such could not provide comment.  It was suggested that Oxendine present the list at the Study Session as a citizen rather than a Commissioner.    
 
Proposal to the City of Ashland to look at funding for a City arborist position – Severson noted that at this time it would be difficult to add an arborist position to the City staff because the budget cycle has been completed for the next year not allowing for any add packages.  Battistella volunteered to do research and comparisons to other communities to see what they might have including a job description.  She will report back to the Commission at the next meeting.  There was also brief discussion of consulting Baughman on a limited basis through his role as Parks Department liaison to the Commission.   
 
Development of a tree preservation fund (through payment in lieu of mitigation)
The Commission discussed ways in which they could offer grant money to help applicants with mitigation.  Severson commented that this proposal is complicated by the fact that the Commission doesn’t have any budgetary or spending authority; he further noted that there is a mitigation fund already in place.
 
Tree Removal Permit form (Battistella) – Severson noted that staff are currently working to develop a more rigorous form for Street Tree Removal permits.  Commissioners emphasized the importance of having applicants’ arborists available at the meetings to respond to Commission questions, and further suggested that the ISA risk assessment form be used.  Battistella will research forms used in other communities and bring back to the Commission for their review. 
 
ADJOURNMENT
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 pm.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

 

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