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ODOT moving forward with tree removal permit

Oregon Department of Transportation has announced it is submitting a tree removal application to build a sound wall along Highway 214, which, if OKed, will be the end of two large sequoia trees.by: JEFF MCDONALD - These two sequoias along Highway 214 will be removed for a sound wall, as long as ODOT's tree removal permit is approved.

In a letter to the city dated Nov. 20, Tim Potter, ODOT area manager for region 2, laid out reasons for the removal, namely that the sound wall would jeopardize the integrity of the trees, the affected property owners were in favor of the sound wall and the Department of Justice deemed that ODOT?would retain liability for any damage to the trees long-term.

More recently, ODOT released a proposal to leave a 100-foot gap in the sound wall so the trees wouldn’t be affected, but this idea has been scrapped.

The city of Woodburn’s economic development department established an ordinance that would allow ODOT to do as it wished as long as it meets the criteria of that ordinance, according to Jason Horton, communications coordinator.

ODOT put a halt to the tree removal process last month after hundreds of citizens petitioned ?to investigate ways to keep the sequoias.

Many signers of that petition, including members from the Historic Woodburn Neighborhoods Association, continued their support for keeping the trees Monday night at the Woodburn City Council meeting.

“We’re hoping that the council will ask (economic development director) Jim Hendryx not to grant cutting the sequoia trees down,” said Sharon Corning, president of HWNA. “We’re just hoping there’s a way the trees can be saved.”