Updated application includes a detailed mitigation plan requested by planners in January
City planners have tentatively approved an updated version of the Oswego Lake Country Clubs application to remove a number of trees that line its golf course.
The revised application approved Thursday includes additional information that addresses City concerns about specific groups of trees and a much more detailed plan for planting new trees to mitigate the loss. It also reduces the total number of trees designated for removal from 197 to 181.
The Citys tentative approval kicks off a 14-day waiting period, during which community members can request a hearing before the Development Review Commission. Any request must be filed with the City Recorder by 5 p.m. on March 3, along with a $183 filing fee. If no requests are filed, the decision will become final at that point.
The country clubs original plan, which was submitted in December 2015, generated significant public scrutiny and critical feedback. It called for the removal of 197 trees, plus 56 more that are considered invasive and dont require the same authorization for removal. The application also indicated that the club planned to pay a fee for the removal of each tree in lieu of planting a replacement.
After evaluating the proposal and reviewing community input, the City sent the application back to the club, saying officials needed more information before they could make a decision on whether to approve the proposal. Planners cited a lack of information about several specific trees slated for removal, but their primary concern was the lack of a mitigation plan.
The City argued the fee option was intended to be an alternative if replanting was impossible, but that there were ample opportunities for replanting on the clubs property.
Club General Manager Michael Carbiener and Terry Flanagan, the clubs contracted arborist, both told The Review in January that the club intended to plant more trees at some point in the future, but wanted to get the removal done first and then come up with a separate plan for mitigation. According to the original application, the club planned to pay a fee of $125 per tree – for a total of $24,625 – and then seek reimbursement from the City once the replacement trees were planted.
In a report authored by Senior Planner Jessica Numanoglu and released on Thursday, the clubs updated application includes a full mitigation plan and calls for planting a total of 186 new trees on club property. Of those, 109 would be Italian cypress Tiny Tower trees, while the remainder would be a mixture of bigleaf maples, Douglas firs, dogwoods and other species.
Numanoglus report states that even though the Italian cypress trees will be 30 feet tall when fully grown, they are not suitable for mitigation because they have very narrow crowns and function more like arborvitae than trees, which under the citys Tree Code means they cannot be counted.
However, the report also states that the other 77 trees proposed as mitigation are satisfactory. Since a total of 181 trees are required, the applicant is short 104 mitigation trees and the City will accept a fee in lieu of planting for the difference.
The report concludes that the current version of the clubs application satisfies all of the removal criteria under the current Tree Code, which requires that the removal be necessary for needed landscaping (and not solely for enhancing views), that it not have significant negative impacts on the surrounding environment or character of the neighborhood, and that it be mitigated through fees or replanting.
The City had also requested additional information about why the club sought to remove specific groups of trees near holes 9, 14, and 18 on the golf course. The clubs updated application clarified that the removal of the trees near the ninth hole was necessary to expand the practice area. Many of the 16 trees that the club dropped from its revised application are located at holes 14 and 18 .
Numanoglus report also mentions a separate request filed by the club to remove 56 trees that are either dead, hazardous or invasive species and therefore do not require public notice. The Citys arborist reviewed the trees in question and confirmed their status, but the club will need to submit separate removal requests for the dead trees and the hazardous trees.