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Woodburn residents need a permit to remove a significant tree from their property, but Mother Nature doesn't.

COURTESY PHOTO: RUTH HERMAN WELLS - The corner of 3rd and Garfield streets in Woodburn, like much of the Willamette Valley, incurred significant tree damages from the February 12-13, 2021, ice storm.By ordinance, removal of a significant tree in Woodburn requires a permit filed through the city.

Since Mother Nature doesn't bother to apply for permits, a natural disaster such as this February's ice storm tweaks the rules somewhat.

The city ordinance defines a significant tree as "any tree 2 feet or more in diameter (6-feet-3-inches in circumference) measured at 5 feet above ground level."

The issue surfaced when a city resident near Garfield and Third streets had some fallen plum trees cut up, and then requested that her hired tree trimmer take out a walnut tree the arborist determined was an immediate danger to her neighbor's house and could possibly create another power outage there, as it had in the past. The tree had tangled, non-live wires in it at the time.

The resident, Ruth Herman Wells, said city of Woodburn employees stopped by just before the tree surgeon began work and asked to see a permit.

"Instead of helping me with the permit process or to waive it, they demanded that the dangerous tree not be removed until the permit was secured," Wells said. "They did not care one bit that I do not have lights, electricity, computer or Internet. This is incredible as we are in the middle of a 100-year pandemic and a 40-year ice storm and they want a permit. I actually thought they were joking. But they actually stopped the tree company.

"The tree guy left without touching the tree ... and hasn't come back since," Wells added.

Wells stressed that she subsequently worked with the city. She was given permission to remove the tree, and she appreciated that — but by that time it was too late.

"The next day the city reversed itself and apologized, but it was too late," she said. "Soon after the reversal, the electric company fixed the transformer (near the tree) and we knew it was too late to get the tree removed once it had live wires in it again." COURTESY PHOTO: RUTH HERMAN WELLS - A Woodburn resident trims a tree determined by an arborist to be an immediate threat to his home.

City spokesman Tommy Moore clarified that there are variances to the ordinance, especially when safety is a concern.

Emergency tree work is permitted as follows:

"Currently, fallen and damaged street trees — generally those between the sidewalk and the street — have been the source of most frequent and significant concern, since they pose a threat to vehicular traffic and power lines," Moore noted. "In order to protect the public's safety, in the aftermath of this storm event, emergency limb and/or tree removal is permitted if, in an arborist's opinion, the tree poses a danger to persons or property due to storm damage."

Moore added that the city has established a site on Hooper Street where residents can bring their excess debris — tree limbs, etc. — caused by the storm.

Tree information & resources

For information about tree removal guidelines in Woodburn, contact city of Woodburn Public Works Department at 503-982-5241 or 503-980-2407.

Web: woodburn-or.gov/dev-planning/page/tree-removal-information

To assist Woodburn residents who are responding to the damage created by the recent ice storm, the city has created an Emergency Tree Removal Hotline to answer questions about things they can do to address dead, fallen and hazardous trees.

Residents with a storm-damaged tree on their property or within the right-of-way in front of their property can call 503-982-5210 to report it and receive information about whether emergency maintenance and/or removal is permitted.

Woodburn has opened a tree debris drop-off located on Hooper Street, open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents can bring the debris there free of charge.

To access the drop-off, turn onto Hooper Street from Evergreen (Center Street and Stacy Allison Way are closed). This drop-off location is for Woodburn residents only. Those outside the city who need to drop off debris can use one of the following locations:

· Marion County's Brown's Island landfill

· Salem-Keizer Recycling and Transfer Station (SKRTS)

· North Marion Transfer Station (NMTS)

 


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