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Planning Commission Regular
Meeting Date: 05/17/2018  
Subject:    PC 17-41, Ordinance amendment to require an inspection prior to tree removal in the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area
From: Scott Harlicker, Planner

A proposed ordinance amendment to require a site inspection prior to tree removal in the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area.
Conduct a public hearing
Recommendation by Planning Commission
Introduction by City Council on: June 5

In the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area (MRCCA) there are specific requirements regarding tree removal. The code prohibits clear cutting of trees on the slope or face of a bluff, within 40 feet of creeks and riverbanks and within 40 feet landward of the top of the bluff. Selective cutting of trees greater than 4 inches is allowed when authorized by the City. There is an exception to the clear cutting and selective cutting regulations; the removal of diseased or damaged trees and vegetation removal required for development. This exception was used to remove trees on two lots last summer and fall. The single family lots were redeveloped and the trees between the new home and the river were removed. The owners stated the trees were diseased, dead or damaged. City staff inspection was not required prior to the tree removal and city staff did not have have an opportunity to verify the condition of the trees prior to their removal. The two homes are currently under construction and both property owners have agreed to provide landscape plans.

Proposed Amendment

The proposed code change will require a city staff inspection prior to the removal of any tree greater than three inches in diameter, as well as vegetation and trees proposed to be removed for development, within the MRCCA. City staff, including the City Forester, will verify the condition and location of the trees and vegetation to be removed prior to their removal. The proposed change will apply to all lots within the MRCCA, including the non-reparian lots.

Staff propose to change the maximum size tree allowed to be removed without city verification from four to three inches. Based on consultation with the City Forester, it was determined that a three inch tree was large enough to warrant review. The inspection process will also take into consideration species of tree or vegetation that is proposed to be removed.

The amendment will also reformat the section. Some language that was previously included in the actual standards is incorporated as an introductory statement.  Language has been added to the introduction stating under what conditions tree cutting is acceptable and where the standards apply.
In Planning Case 17-41, the Planning Commission move to recommend approval the proposed ordinance amendment requiring City staff approval prior to removal of trees three inches and greater in diameter within the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area.

Draft Ordinance

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