Hundreds of trees may forgo chainsaw thanks to new deal

About six acres likely to be spared when removal starts Aug. 1

TIGARD - Plans are in the works to save hundreds of trees originally slated for removal from a 42-acre property on Hunziker Street next week.

Fred Fields, a retired manufacturing executive, has a permit to cut down 2,310 trees on land he owns off Southwest Hunziker Street directly across the street from Potso Dog Park.

Fields has owned the land for decades and said that cutting down the trees is a way to boost its property value to find a developer. The move has angered many neighbors who can do little to stop the private property owner from exercising his rights.

But Tigard associate planner Gary Pagenstecher said that the city and Fields have worked out a deal to save as many of the trees as possible.

Pagenstecher said that about 6 acres of land will be spared from chainsaws when work crews begin to cut down trees on Monday.

Fields was required to leave a 50-foot barrier of trees and shrubs between the cut trees and homes along Southwest Cherry Drive, but Pagenstecher said that boundary has been increased to a total of 140 feet, leaving about six acres worth of trees standing.

Pagenstecher couldn't say how many trees that is, but representatives of Fields commented that the number of trees saved would be 'several hundred.'

The deal allows Fields to take advantage of a new city tree code set to go into effect next year, which requires developers to maintain a certain amount of tree canopy on their property.

The code allows Fields to receive bonus credits for trees that would eventually need to be replanted on the site, said Todd Prager, city arborist.

'It would make it easier for him to meet the city's tree requirements by preserving some of his trees,' Prager said, 'instead of needing to plant new ones.'

Tigard has strict laws about tree removal for development purposes, Prager said, but because Fields is a private land owner and has no intention of developing the land anytime soon, he is under no requirement to replant.

Fields' representatives said they agreed to the plan because Fields does hope to sell the land to developers sometime in the next few years when the economy improves.

Pagenstecher said that the deal isn't binding, and that Fields could decide to go back to the 50-foot buffer originally agreed upon.

'It's important to remember that they are voluntarily saving these trees,' Pagenstecher said. 'They are not required to.'

And the future of the six acres of trees isn't set in stone, the trees could be cut someday if the site is eventually developed, Pagenstecher said.

'This is an elective (Fields) has chosen,' Pagenstecher said. 'There are no guarantees other than (Fields') desire to maximize his benefit for development in the future.'

There is no word yet on what Fields will do with the felled trees as commercial forestry rules prevent him from selling or taking a tax write-off through donations.

Fields has said that the cut trees could be destroyed or stored on the property and left to rot.

The tree removal is expected to take about a month.