City working on tree removal policy


Last updated 6/27/2023 at 10:42am

City staff is proposing adding the tree-removal process that is in the development code into the municipal code, so enforcement applies more generally. This also allows enforcement to be done on tree removal on private property, not just when building a new development.

Sisters City Council heard from Code Enforcement Officer Jacob Smith and Community Development director Scott Woodford at the last Sisters City Council workshop on June 14 regarding the city’s tree removal policy.

Tree-removal policy focuses on what is known as a “significant tree.” As of now, the code defines a significant tree as those that have a trunk diameter of 8 inches or greater as measured 4.5 feet above the ground. City Council discussed the subject of 8 inches being on the small side, and will continue to workshop the size parameters.

According to the proposal from Woodford and Smith: The code amendment sets forth regulations on the removal of significant trees on private property.The proposed code amendment would require property owners to obtain a permit for the removal of significant trees on private property. A certified arborist would be required to make a justification for the tree’s removal, potential alternatives to removal, and proposal for replacement trees.

Tree removals usually require an arborist’s report to demonstrate that someone doesn’t want to take down a tree for the sake of taking it down. Right now, the City can only approve the removal of a tree if it’s proved to be dead, diseased, or a threat to life and property. With these proposed tweaks to the code, the City can work with property owners on tree removal for other reasons while still protecting significant trees and the city’s canopy.

“We want to emphasize this is not a new ordinance, it is tweaks to the language and re-homing the code to apply to more general situations,” said Woodford.

It is a high-priority item to look at code amendments when it comes to fire protection and safety with tree removal, and the City is still awaiting State decisions on code and wildfire mitigation. These proposed adjustments allow for the City and property owners to work together to determine tree safety. “It is a concern for me to help citizens determine what should and shouldn’t stay when it comes to wildfire safety,” said Councilor Gary Ross.

Council will weigh in further on the permitting system this removal policy would entail as well as the cost for the permit to remove a tree. City staff will continue to workshop the language tweaks and the movement of the code into the municipal code. The development code regarding tree removal will remain the same, as those are the policies that have worked for development and tree removal in the past.


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