Mayor to appoint committee to include arborist, engineer, tree advocate, planning commissioner

After a public hearing to change the code regarding tree retention in Sandy, the City Council shared the four chapters of the code in a first reading, leaving the most contentious parts to be decided on by a mayor-appointed committee.

The proposed changes in those four chapters will be adopted on Nov. 5, and address the following:

n Changes to Chapter 17.22 of the code would increase those required to receive type II quasi-judicial notices to those owning property within 300 feet of the development site and type III quasi-judicial notices to those owning property within 500 feet of the development site.

"A Type II quasi-judicial decision is a staff level decision with notice to all property owners within 200 feet of the subject development," explained City Planning Director Kelly O'Neill Jr. "These decisions can be elevated to a Planning Commission decision when the applicant asks for special variances or the planning director feels the community interest is better served by holding a public hearing."

n Changes to Chapter 17.28 would increase the time allotted to appeal a decision made by the Planning Commission or City Council from 10 days to 12 days for all types of procedures.

n Changes to Chapter 17.80 relegated a long list of collector and arterial streets once included in section 17.80.10 to be included in the Transportation System Plan (TSP). The streets are still included, just within the attached TSP document.

n Changes to Chapter 17.82 were mostly to "remove redundancies" in the form of references to commercial development. Staff removed language concerning commercial development because it was covered by subsequent chapters.

"The hope is in the next few years we can revisit 17.82," O'Neill told The Post. City staff aim to update the TSP so it reflects the expected changes to come after the Transit Department completes a new master plan.

A decision regarding Chapter 17.102 on urban forestry will be considered by a committee. O'Neill projected that item will return to the agenda possibly after the first of the year.

That committee is set to include an arborist, an engineer, a tree retention advocate, a planning commissioner, a Sandy citizen and a parks advisory board member.

"No matter which direction they're going, they feel like they're kind of trapped in the middle," City Manager Kim Yamashita told Council at the Oct. 15 meeting. "They're trying to look out for the person buying a home or having a home that ends up with a mitigation tree in the years that they don't want. They're caught between the developers, the builders, the potential customer at the end, and then also with council's goal of being a Tree City USA."

The proposed changes to the chapter concerning urban forestry included an increase in retention trees per acre from three to six, a change in who must submit a tree permit from landowners with one acre or more to those who own a half of an acre or more, and a change to where retention and mitigation trees are planted in new developments to easements and preservation tracts.

The latter change might affect how many lots are possible in developments, which O'Neill said could be beneficial for potential homeowners.

"We're seeing traditionally that when we put these Douglas firs on the lot, trees are starting to damage the property or house proximity affects tree health," he noted.

"Upping the number (of required trees) would encourage the (city's) comprehensive plan goals and also Tree city USA goals," he added.

These changes covered in Chapter 17.102 will not be adopted at the Nov. 5 meeting and could be revised by the appointed committee.

"Hopefully the end result is something most parties can agree to and feel good about going forward," O'Neill said. "Staff's just trying to come up with a code that works best for everyone. It's impossible to write a perfect code, but we're trying to do the best we can."

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