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Agendas and Minutes

Tree Commission (View All)

Tree Commission Meeting

Thursday, June 08, 2017

June 8, 2017
ATTENDANCE:  Commissioners Oxendine, Neff and Cates were present, along with Parks & Recreation Department Staff Liaison Peter Baughman and Community Development Department Staff Liaison Derek Severson.   Commissioner John had an excused absence. 
Oxendine called the meeting to order at 6:02 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development and Engineering Services Building located at 51 Winburn Way.
Neff/Cates m/s to approve the April 6, 2017 meeting minutes as presented.  Voice vote:  All AYES.  Motion passed.    
Parks & Recreation Department Staff Liaison Peter Baughman noted that Garfield Park improvements are now largely complete, but that there would be additional improvements to the splash pad, basketball courts, gazebos, and trees to follow.  He also noted that the trees planted in North Mountain Park for Arbor Day 2017 are doing well.
Community Development Staff Liaison Derek Severson noted that:  1) Staff has requested that Commissioner John be reappointed to another term at the June 20th council meeting.  He was inadvertently left off of the reappointment list approved in April; 2) It was staff’s understanding that the Mayor is considering appointing Jim Falkenstein as a new Commissioner at the June 20th meeting; 3) No Council liaison was appointed in the last round of appointments; and 4) Interviews occurred today for the open Assistant Planner positions, and it is hoped that the department will be back up to normal staffing levels very soon.
Oxendine noted that he met with city staff and Landscape Architect Kerry Kencairn and her team to look at options for saving the trees in front of the “Stop & Shop” and redesigning the corner at Lithia and Pioneer.  He explained that they hoped to arrive at a cheaper alternative than “silva-cells” which would provide additional soil volume to benefit these established trees, and thought that the use of modified utility vaults might work.  Three alternatives are being considered, one of which would require removal of the trees.
Cates noted that he had checked up on the site of the approved removal at 552 Beach Street and the tree has already been removed. 
There was no one present wishing to speak. 
PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2017-00969                                              
SUBJECT PROPERTY:              244 Hargadine Street                          
OWNER/APPLICANT: Elisa Fox/Tim Plankenhorn   
DESCRIPTION:            A request for a Site Design Review and Conditional Use Permit approval to operate a two-unit Accessory Traveler’s Accommodation including one detached guest unit and one owner’s unit in the existing home for the property located at 244 Hargadine Street. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density, Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP:  39 1E 09BD; TAX LOT #:  16500.


Severson gave a brief staff report, noting that the proposal is for an accessory traveler’s accommodation with one detached guest unit, with the main house to serve as the owners’ unit.  The detached guest unit is to be constructed on an existing block foundation which is already in place, and parking is to use existing paved areas so there should be minimal disturbance to the site.  The item was brought to the Commission to identify any concerns with impacts to the existing tree in proximity to the building and parking during construction, such as special recommendations for tree protection or construction staging, or any on-going recommendations as the use continues.
Following discussion, the Tree Commission recommended approving the application subject to the condition that the applicants either: 
  1. Identify a Tree Protection Zone, protect it with standard tree protection fencing, and keep all staging, excavation and other construction disturbance including utility installation out of the tree protection zone, and have an arborist on site during trenching to insure that roots are not being cut, or
  2. Install any utilities through the tree/s root zone by boring the lines through the tree’s root zone rather than trenching.
Severson noted that there was one street tree permit to consider for 420 Morton Street, and briefly explained the request as proposing the removal of two liquidambar trees out of concern for the large quantity of seed pods dropped and the hazard these pose to pedestrians.   The arborist report provided suggested that these trees pose hazard in terms of their proximity to drop service power lines, invasive root systems which break-up the curbs, and the seed pods which create a tripping hazard.  If removal is approved, the two trees would be replaced. Severson noted that Liquidambars are not addressed in the Street Tree guide, although Wikipedia notes that they are banned in some jurisdictions and when accumulated over time seed pods can make a lawn “bumpy”.
Following discussion, the Tree Commission recommended denying the application as submitted with the following comments: 
  1. Liquidambars or sweetgums are good trees, and are very commonly encountered in plantings locally as both street trees and landscape trees.
  2. Removing two healthy trees because of their fruit, seeds or leaves would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to the removal of a lot of healthy trees in the city. 
  3. If removals are proposed based on a specific hazard condition of the tree, Commissioners would ask that a standard tree risk assessment form be provided. 
Arbor Day Debrief – Commissioners noted that two trees were planted along the creek in North Mountain Park, and appreciation was expressed to Plan Oregon for allowing the commission to change its order from more/smaller trees to a couple of larger trees at the last minute.  It was noted that there were a number of members of the public present, including one person who brought a tree of their own to plant in the park. 
Oxendine noted that the SOU Arbor Day event was well attended. 
Earth Day Debrief – It was noted that due to miscommunications, there was no Tree Commission presence at the Earth Day event this year. 
Street Tree Guide – Commissioners discussed revisiting the guide and the process for public involvement and ultimate council adoption of a new guide.  Commissioners agreed that they would mark-up their copies of the Ashland and Medford Street Tree Guides for discussion at the next meeting, and it was noted that the City of Medford’s Arborist (Adam) might be available to attend a future meeting and discuss Medford’s document. 
Site Visit Discussion -  The Commissioners discussed that while at times it is necessary to go onto the applicant’s property to look at the trees and landscaping that are part of a planning action, especially with flag lots, entering private property without permission could be considered trespassing.  Severson explained that Commissioner should not enter private property without explicit permission of the owner, and that if features cannot be seen from the right-of-way staff should arrange a formal commission site visit with all the commissioners, and that this would include staff obtaining permission to enter the property and providing requisite public notice that a quorum of the commission would be meeting.  
The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m., and it was noted that the next regular meeting would be on Thursday July 6th

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