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Group set to consider urban clear cuts

County task force will look at an urban tree ordinance

All three county commissioners want to take on the issue of a tree ordinance for unincorporated Clackamas County within the Urban Growth Boundary, but, as Commissioner Bill Kennemer said, 'We need to be careful.'

The Board of County Commissioners met last Monday and spent almost two hours discussing the scope of the proposed ordinance.

'We need to consider revenue issues and we need to find out if the general public will support a tree ordinance,' Kennemer said.

After much discussion, Lynn Peterson, the BCC chair, concluded that the ordinance must be related to development concerns, and a major issue must be 'to protect the large stands of trees that already exist.'

Kennemer agreed, adding that the tree ordinance should be 'mostly focused on development or pre-development, as that is easier to regulate, and we've got to have some compliance, otherwise there is no policy.'

All three commissioners noted that the ordinance is not a simple matter. 'This is why we need a task force' to consider all the parameters of the ordinance, Commissioner Martha Schrader noted.

At the end of the meeting, County Administrator Jon Mantay summed it up this way: 'All three county commissioners agree we should create a task force,' to come up with a tree ordinance that will be 'inside the UGB.'

He continued, 'We'll assign staff to come up with a budget and a time frame, and then we'll initiate the process to form a task force.'

Once the task force is underway, Mantay said the group would 'return to the board as many times' as needed, for the BCC to review their findings.

Mantay estimated it would take about 30 days to get the process underway, and then interested citizens could apply to be on the task force.

Susan Shawn attended the meeting and said she was happy with the outcome of the meeting.

She is one of the founding members of Urban Green, an association of neighbors who want to establish some reasonable rules that will protect the urban tree canopy, and who have asked the BCC to adopt a tree ordinance,

She hopes the board will next discuss which stakeholder groups will be included in the task force and noted that the group needs to be 'balanced.'

She's hoping that groups such as the home builders association, Urban Green, neighborhood organizations, environmental groups, and representatives from the cities within the UGB will be included.

Other representatives Shawn would like to see on the task force include members from the chamber of commerce, realtors, representatives from civic groups, like the League of Women Voters and developers.

But, she pointed out, the choosing of the members of the task force is 'up to the board members' of the BCC.

'We will respect their good judgment,' she added.

Shawn and other members of Urban Green also hope the commissioners will realize that the ordinance alone is not enough and that there needs to be a group appointed to oversee the tree ordinance.

Kennemer said that setting up the task force to come up with a proposed tree ordinance is 'one significant step - there will be others.'