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Agendas and Minutes

Tree Commission (View All)

Tree Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, February 05, 2015

DRAFT Minutes February 5, 2015
CALL TO ORDER –Chair Greg Trunnell called the meeting of the Ashland Tree Commission to order at 6:04 p.m. on February 5, 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 Staff
Russ Neff , absent Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Casey Roland Carolyn Schwendener, Admin
Christopher John, absent Pete Baughman, Parks Liaison
The minutes of the January 8, 2015 Ashland Tree Commission meeting were approved as presented.
Severson informed the Commission of a change in policy in regards to Planning Actions.  In the future when the Commission’s recommendation is counter to the staff’s recommendation it will go to the Planning Commission for a public hearing.  The Commissioners were pleased with this change in policy. They did recommend that this policy be put in writing for any future staff that is hired. 
Severson introduced Mike Faught the City Public Works Director.  Mr. Faught would like to give a presentation addressing the parking issues in the downtown area.   Chair Trunnell added Mr. Faught to the agenda.
Severson announced that Allan Sandler, property owner at 25 North Main Street is currently out of town.   Mr. Sandler would like to be present for the discussion regarding the pruning of the trees in front of the Old Masonic Building and is requesting the Commission postpone that discussion until the next meeting.
Trunnell/Schmidt m/s to postpone the meeting until next month when Mr. Sandler can attend.  Voice Vote:  All ayes, motion passed
Severson introduced Bill Molnar, Community Development Director who was present to observe the meeting.
City Council Liaison – Voisin reported at the last Council meeting they discussed the ODOT Welcome Center but no decision was made.  ODOT is requesting a waiver for the four year limitation; this topic will come back to the February 17th Council meeting. On the February 17th agenda the Council will also look at the possibility of hanging baskets on the downtown street lights.  The Council will have a Study Session on May 4th to discuss Commission quorum requirements.  The question proposed is “Should the quorum be determined by the total number of people on the Commission or the number of seats that are filled?” Voisin encouraged the Commissioners to give their input regarding this topic.  There is a large group of citizens who are asking for a new Commission called “The Culture of Peace.”  Voisin added that the Police Chief updated the Council regarding the local missing teen.  The case is still considered a run-a-way and not criminal.  The Fire Chief also gave a presentation regarding the need for an aerial ladder truck due to the increase in heights of our downtown businesses.  The estimated cost of the ladder is around $900,000.  The City is working on the recruitment of a new Police Chief. 
Parks & Recreation Liaison Baughman said he has recommendations for possible locations for the Arbor Day planting.  Arbor Day discussion is on the agenda and Baughman will speak on it at that time.
Community Development Liaison – Severson distributed a memo from City Administrator, Dave Kanner.  Kanner addressed the issue of the seating wall in front of the Gateway Realty.  Mr. Kanner said “The project does not involve removing the seat wall.  The project involves raising and leveling the seat wall (which will provide more seating area), expanding the size of the planting area and upgrading the irrigation.”
The Commissioners recommended that an arborist review the landscaping plans as well as be on site during the construction.
Ashland Downtown Parking Management and Multi-Modal Circulation Plan - Public Works Director Mike Faught explained that the Downtown Committee has been working on the parking issues in the downtown area for over a year.  The Committee’s charge is not only to look at parking but how the City can develop East Main through the downtown as a multi-modal facility.  Mr. Faught gave a power point presentation explaining the current proposal.  Mr. Faught emphasized this proposal is only conceptual and is being worked on.  The Committee is looking for feedback from as many people as possible. 
The proposed plan shows taking the three lanes down to two lanes and bringing in a bike facility.  There is a bike facility along North Main and again on Siskiyou Boulevard but nothing in the downtown area. This plan would provide a bike lane all the way through town. The Transportation System Plan (TSP) addresses this as an important need.  However if the third lane is removed it proposes a problem for the delivery trucks.  At this time the delivery trucks are unloading at the turn into the plaza blocking view of the crosswalk. It’s very difficult to see around the trucks creating a hazard for the pedestrians in the crosswalks.  This problem will need to be fixed regardless of the future plans. Fifty-two foot trucks can make the turn into the plaza but the sixty-seven foot trucks cannot.  The City would need to create loading zones to meet the need for the trucks to unload.
Mr. Faught has met with three trucking companies, UPS, FEDEX and Sysco.  He is now questioning whether there are any sixty-seven foot trucks delivering into Ashland.  If this is the case the City will not need as many loading zones or as large of ones.  Mr. Faught plans on meeting with other truck companies in order to get more feedback. The consequence of the loading zone and the eight foot bike lane is that it will be necessary to encroach into the existing sidewalk not leaving enough room for the Sweet Gum trees.  The roots would be damaged.  The Black Oak on the Plaza will not be affected.  Mr. Faught assured the Commissioners that he will be looking at all options regarding those trees.  The City does not want to remove the trees if at all possible.  If the trucking companies are not using sixty-seven foot trucks the trees will not be an issue and will not be affected.  The Sweet Gums are currently lifting the sidewalk and may not meet ADA standards.  At one point the lifting of the sidewalk will need to be addressed. Mr. Faught remarked that the Committee is trying to determine where the best loading zones would be most appropriately placed. 
Public Forum -   Liza Maltsberger was present to talk about the downtown trees. Ms. Maltsberger explained the importance of trees in the downtown area for both citizens and tourists.  Ms Maltsberger commented she can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want to try and save those trees and recognizes that the City is making an effort to try and do that.  Ms Maltsberger stated she is an advocate for urban forests. 
The Commissioners discussed the proposed transportation plan that was just presented to them.  They agreed that the Sweet Gum trees are the first thing you see when entering town and what a tragedy it would be if they were gone.  They discussed ideas addressing the trees such as flexible sidewalks, re-routing the sidewalk and rubber sidewalks.  Faught was encouraged to look at creating an environment for trees that could eventually get big.  It was noted that the Sweet Gums are pushing up the sidewalk and it is doubtful they will be there in ten years, and Commissioners suggested that the right tree should be in the right place from the very beginning. 
Discussion of Tree Pruning at 25 North Main Street – One problem appears to be the definition of what is the topping of a tree. The term topping is subjective. The City gave a permit to the property owner with the condition of approval that read “that pruning shall be limited to the minimum necessary for building clearance and in which maintains tree health and eliminates potential hazards.  Otherwise an appropriate replacement tree shall be chosen at the property owner’s expense.”  It appears evident that the work done was not the minimum.  It was possible that Bartlett Tree Service did not see what the actual permit said and was doing as the property owner requested. However it was pointed out that it still is the responsibility of the arborist to know what the approval was actually for. 
The Commissioners discussed what the best use of their efforts would be and determined that adopting better criteria for Street Tree permits for pruning and removal would be more productive than meeting with Mr. Sandler.  The Commissioners determined it is not necessary for Mr. Sandler to attend the next meeting.  The permit Mr. Sandler received did state that if the trees were damaged to the point that the longevity was compromised or if the trees die he would need to replace them.  Commissioners asked to put an item on next month’s agenda to discuss the regulations surrounding Street Trees, pruning and removal.  Roland indicated that he could provide information regarding tree topping along with an illustration.  Severson commented he will do some research on other cities’ street tree removal permitting requirements.    
Annual Council Update – The Commission will give an update to the Council at their March 17, 2015 meeting.  Trunnell agreed to represent the Commission and present the update.  Severson will help prepare the update. 
Arbor Day 2015 – Brainstorming for Annual Tree Planting & Other Events in April.  Baughman acknowledged that the Commissioners are on the right track regarding the pruning and topping of trees.  He would like to see specific guidelines with pictures explaining the differences. Baughman suggested planting a tree for Arbor Day at the new Ashland Creek Park located at 27 E Hersey Street.    Roland volunteered to provide the tree and delivery. The other Commissioners will help him plant the tree.  Baughman will choose what kind of tree and where on the site to plant it.  A big leaf maple was suggested. 
Earth Day 2015 – Earth Day Event is April 25, 2015.  Commissioners would like to have a table at the Earth Day celebration.  Put this on future agenda to discuss what the Commission could offer to engage citizens at a booth for Earth Day.    
Meeting adjourned at 7:55p.m., Next meeting:  March 5, 2015
Respectively submitted by Carolyn Schwendener


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