Ashland Tree Commission
Minutes, February 7, 2002
CALL TO ORDER - The meeting was called to order by Chair Rich Whitall at 5:08 p.m. Additional commissioners in attendance in alphabetical order were: Greg Covey, Bryan Holley, Bryan Nelson and Tom Peil. Parks department liaison Donn Todt, Council liaison Cameron Hanson and staff Robbin Pearce were also in attendance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES - Minutes were approved with corrections.
WELCOME GUESTS - Alan DeBoer, Randal Hopkins and Barbara Hines were present to speak to the issue of the ordinance.
- Tree Ordinance - 1)Alan DeBoer - Mr. DeBoer updated the commissioners on the Ginkgo that was cut at the Library. The wood from the Ginkgo as well as two other trees from that site is seasoning but no decision has been made as to what to use the wood for. As far as the ordinance is concerned Mr. DeBoer stated the Council will support whatever the commission comes up with. The ordinance need to be something the Planning Commission can work with and he recommended reviewing what is on the books, adding more teeth and support for follow up or enforcement. He also feels the issue of restrictions on personal property rights should be eliminated. Alan also felt that once both public works and community development were in the Hillah enforcement and normal operations would work more smoothly. And tree protection in construction should be a number one concern; we know it isn't and we will work toward making it so. Discussion included: frustration over lack of enforcement. 2) Randall Hopkins - Mr. Hopkins stated the planning staff does a good job in identifying trees for protection in projects. However, due to lack of follow through by contractors the issue becomes one of public safety. Trees damaged in construction, as well as trees that are not properly protected during a project, may be weakened and pose a public hazard. Even worse, failing to adhere to planning requirements such as protective fencing and prohibition on storage of debris and petrochemicals around trees creates fire hazards. This is a particular concern since much construction takes place in the forested areas of Ashland during dry summer months. A fire resulting from such hazards could easily sweep out of control and cause much damage. Mr. Hopkins cited a number of examples and showed photos taken at construction projects around town. This history shows that all while compliance directives from the city during construction are important, they are by themselves insufficient. Too often, protection requirements are subsequently ignored once the specific compliance issue has been resolved. Given the dangers involved, a system of deterrence must be established to assure compliance and hazard avoidance when city officials are not around or when public complaint is not lodged. Mr. Hopkins recommended a few language changes be made in section 130 of the proposed ordinance (the section dealing with penalties) to make clear that these apply to violations of tree protection and hazard avoidance requirements. This will deter improper and risky behavior by making clear that if the conditions are violated there will be penalties and the penalties will be enforced. Mr. Hopkins stated, This is about more than pretty trees; this is about public safety."
John McLaughlin, Planner asked the commissioners 'Where do you want to go?" The Commissioners asked "If we look at two aspects: protection of existing canopy cover: which is more of a residential issue but also some development issues and development standards and regulations and given the Mayor's concerns can we get there from here?" McLaughlin stated what you have to work with now are three pieces: the ordinance which covers development - identification of natural features including anything greater than 6 inch; the design standards - which state 'efforts shall be made to protect...' and the power to amend which regulate retention of trees or other natural features. And then you must balance all the other planning aspects in each project. The implementation piece is the conditions of approval, which have become more stringent over the years, which is the piece that we could include in ordinance. The challenging piece is distinguishing between large residential and commercial or development lots.
Development should have a higher standard for development. We will have to determine the trigger point for residential lots: 1 acre or 3/4 acre; and how will we protect lots from preemptory cuts. Discussion included: adding penalties to development standards, a separate chapter vs. amending existing chapters, adding mitigation language, the need for enforcement, creating a framework that is not just punitive, ensuring teeth in whatever is developed.
It was unanimously agreed to drop the residential piece and to look at development lands including multi-family and large scale and to include an aspect of support in the purpose statement. Also, to develop a heritage tree program as a supportive and educational piece.
McLaughlin will edit the ordinance and have it ready for the March meeting.
Alan Pardee, Landscape Architect from Mt. Shasta joined the discussion late. He added that often the communities with tree ordinances with teeth often forget the education piece. The idea is to have them want to save the trees.
- Recommended Street Tree List - The editing has been done but because staff will be on vacation the revisions won't be done until April.
- Jackson County Smart Map - Greg Covey will remain point person on this project. We will get information from Engineering for the presentation to the Planning Commission and the City Council.
- Siskiyou Redesign - Donn Todt has been in touch with the Landscape Architect and the LA will make changes based on our climate. Turf issues will be addressed. Staff and Bryan Nelson will review the plans and contact the LA if necessary.
- Street Clearance - Donn's pole is available at the Parks shop if anyone needs it for analysis. Urban trees are challenging. The Electric and Streets departments will be at the March meeting to continue the discussion. Donn would like the topic of who is responsible for parkrows on a future agenda.
- Grant Application Update - Staff reported that four grants were requested. One for $7,600 for grants in the downtown; one for $1,000 for Citygreen software; one for $1,000 for brochure development for a tree replacement under powerlines project; and one for $3,600 for a structural soil demonstration at Dan Wolf Exxon. The grants will be awarded in April.
- Arbor Week - Staff informed the Commissioners that the approximate cost of Arbor Week is as follows: ~$305 for the Tidings ad and the plaque and an additional $150 for the tree. That leaves a little surplus in the budget. Ideas to spend money on discussed in order of priority were: 1) Project cleanup on the bikepath (Bryan Holley); 2) City Hall display of Terry Skibby's photos (staff); 3)Age appropriate books for schools and 4) additional tree planting projects. Projects that would not impact the budget include 1) pruning demonstration (January Jennings), 2) tree walks through the Park. Tom Peil suggested a Memorial Grove tree planting project in memory of victims of September 11th. Donn Todt stated we currently don't have a site that we can plant. Staff asked Donn to keep the idea in mind for future plantings.
- Other - Donn Todt reported the Oregon Department of Forestry will be conducting a Hazardous Tree Training in May in Ashland which commissioners might want to attend. Staff included we will be co-sponsoring that event and will bring additional information in March.
- Site Reviews - There were no site reviews this month.
- Tree Permit Reporting - There were no tree permits to be reported this month.
- Other - 1) Staff reported there were a couple of workshops that might be of interest that the commissioners should review. 2) The Helman street project is moving along and people are beginning to choose trees. It has been a good opportunity to work with public works. There have been some glitches such as having to make tree choice changes because some parkrows include overhead powerlines. 3) There is a new situation with a tree at the Library. There is a tree which is growing differently than was shown on the plans. Alan DeBoer asked the commissioners to look at the situation and advise. Donn Todt and Bryan Nelson will review and get back to Mr. DeBoer. 4) Staff shared a letter code compliance had written to a local business about a tree planting project. Staff will bring more information back to the March meeting about this project.
ADJOURNMENT - Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.