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Lake Oswego to developer: Nope. Again.

Builder Jeff Parker's latest tree removal request is shot down

Yet again, the verdict is in.

And this time around, it looks very much like the last one.

Lake Oswego officials denied a tree removal request by luxury home developer Jeff Parker last Thursday, citing previous decisions that five trees at 1500 North Shore Road are too significant to cut down.

Parker made the request in June, hoping to clear the way for a driveway connecting the east and west ends of his home. The city previously rejected the driveway extension and a second garage in order to preserve trees.

The latest request to remove the trees set off another disagreement between Parker and neighbors, including the Forest Hills Easement Association and Country Club Neighborhood Association.

Parker's property in the Country Club neighborhood, just west if the Forest Hills Easement, has been the test case for Lake Oswego's development limits since planning first began on the now 13,000-square-foot home in 2004.

Originally set to be built on pilings in Oswego Lake, the home's original design threatened to obstruct views of the lake from the Forest Hills Easement. Members of the easement association began an aggressive campaign against the home and continue to oppose changes on the property. A compromise in 2006 led to construction of the home, pulling it out of the water.

But Lake Oswego's tree code has since laid the battlefield for continued fighting over the house's impact on aesthetics at the easement. Since 2004, Parker has removed 25 of 49 trees on the property for development.

Parker has twice asked to remove trees since building the home, once in November 2007 and again last month. His detractors say the requests violate the agreement they made and duplicate requests the city has already denied.

However, Parker's arborist, Terrence Flanagan, said the latest request to remove trees differs from previous requests, according to application papers. The new plan proposed arborists supervise the driveway construction and save more trees, only cutting five down instead of the 16 proposed in November.

But city officials denied the permit.

David Odom, associate planner for the city of Lake Oswego and a certified arborist, instead found the trees are 'an extremely prominent landscape feature on the site' and 'contribute greatly to the aesthetic quality and character of the neighborhood.'

Both are grounds to keep the trees standing.

During the course of past public hearings, Odom noted, Parker himself pointed to a scale model of his home and showed how final construction plans preserved those same trees.

Now, Parker 'is proposing to remove some of the very trees that he argued were significant, and … previously stated contributed to the value of the residence and to the neighborhood,' Odom wrote in his decision.

He noted other reasons for the denial, including related permit denials by the Lake Oswego Community Forestry Commission, reasonable alternatives to tree removal, and the inability to show that the city would approve construction for the extended driveway if the trees were out of the way. Parker also failed to show the effects of tree removal on erosion or soil stability, Odom wrote.

He did not back claims by members of the Forest Hills Easement Association and Country Club Neighborhood Association that some paperwork submitted with the permit request was false and that the renewed application duplicated previous efforts and was an 'abuse of public process.'

Parker declined to comment on the city's decision. He has until Aug. 21 to appeal to the city's Development Review Commission.