TUALATIN - The cost of removing trees for residential development and improvements in Tualatin has just increased by almost 600 percent. On March 12 the Tualatin City Council approved a tree removal permit fee of $276. That amount is $236 more than the newly increased fee adopted by the city back in June 2006.

A tree removal permit, formally known as a tree cutting permit, is only required if a property owner wants to cut down four or more trees on a parcel or parcels of land under the same ownership in one calendar year.

The fee includes an application form asking for approval to remove one tree. Each additional tree on a property is another $10 per tree, not to exceed a total of $300.

Prior to the city's tree preservation code amendments last year, the city's tree cutting permit fee was $35. In June, the fee was increased to $40. However, in January City Councilors asked that the staff consider raising the fee to an amount that would adequately cover the cost of processing such requests.

According to a staff report on the fee increase, the amount is based on time and resources spent on processing tree removal applications. The staff report also cited Oregon Revised Statutes 227.175 that states that a 'governing body shall establish fees charged for processing permits at an amount no more than the actual or average cost of providing that service.'

The new tree removal permit fee became effective Tuesday.

In November 2005, the Tualatin City Council directed staff to work with the Tualatin Planning Advisory Committee and the Tualatin Parks Advisory Committee on a two-phase review of the city's tree preservation regulations. The ultimate objective is to increase the city's overall tree canopy.

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