Eagle Point sets public hearing on tree removal

It appears the stimulus money ODOT has for an overlay on Main Street in Eagle Point may mean the job could be done this fall instead of next year. The timing of the job in Eagle Point depends on several other jobs under the ODOT stimulus money, but the city must be ready to handle the project once notice is given. And, according to city officials, that notice could be only a week or two prior to the start of the project.

The city also learned that the dollars will go farther than originally anticipated because construction costs have decreased. The overlay will now extend to Buchanan St. whereas it was originally only going to go as far as Platt St.

Staff has gone over areas on Main St. with ODOT where curbs, gutters and sidewalks need repair.  And they asked for a report from an arborist regarding trees on Main St. that might be impacted by sidewalk or street construction.

Beaver Tree Service identified 12 trees from Nova to Royal. They said there are three black locust and two Chinese pistache which appear vigorous. The remainder of the trees are identified as hybrid ash, many have structural defects, according to the arborist. With the exception of two pistache trees, all others have a diameter at breast height (DBH) from 19 inches to 41 inches and a height from 25 to 45 ft.

Beaver arborist said in order to protect trees during construction a Protected Root Zone (PRZ) circle with a radius equal to 1 to 1 ½ ft. for each foot of diameter at breast height is needed. To protect a tree of 26 DBH an area of no disturbance of 26 ft. in diameter is needed.

The arborist recommends removing all existing trees and replacing them with new trees after the sidewalks are finished. He includes the Chinese pistache as well. Any doubts about the effects of construction damage on trees can easily be assuaged by visiting the Echoes of the Ponderosa subdivision in Eagle Point,” said Keith Wangle, certified arborist.

Wangle went on to recommend the city consider alternating slow-growing with fast-growing trees as they replant.

“Our trees are a significant issue with community,” said City Administrator Dave Hussell. “You (council) need to feel comfortable (with your decision). Do you want to work around the trees, take them out, replace them?”

Each councilor voiced an opinion on the tree issue (Wyn Lewis was absent).  The comment most generally expressed was tree removal is necessary and makes better sense than to have them die in five or so years and have to re-do work about to be done. But, the council wants the community aware of the situation.

They passed 6-0 a resolution “A resolution authorizing the city to remove diseased or dying trees along Main Street that are impacted by sidewalk or street construction project.”  The resolution continues “City staff is directed to review and analyze any tree removal project to insure the preservation of all mature trees can be accomplished unless the tree is diseased, dying or will materially impact utility, road or sidewalk construction and thus the safety and general welfare of the public. All decisions where removal is warranted shall be reviewed and approved by the City Council or in the event of emergency authorization to remove the tree shall be at the discretion of the City Administrator. Trees that are removed shall be replaced based upon an approved Main Street Streetscape Plan.”

A public hearing will be held at the next city council meeting, which is Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. At that time the staff will have a specific list of trees and will invite the Beaver Tree Service arborist. This is a time for the public to learn first-hand what is planned and to ask questions.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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