City News

Chopped trees on south Salem property trigger review, possible fines by city

Trees cut down on a property in south Salem that led to an investigation by the city of Salem. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

A field of cut down trees on a property in south Salem triggered a review by the city of Salem that could lead to fines.

Trevor Smith, Salem city spokesperson, said the city sent its urban forester, Milan Davis, to the property at the intersection of Southeast Marietta Street and 27th Avenue Southeast Wednesday after receiving reports from concerned citizens over the weekend.

Davis told Salem Reporter a lot of significant trees were removed, but he didn’t have an exact count after doing a visual inspection from outside the property, which is zoned retail commercial.

Significant trees include Oregon white oaks greater than 24 inches in diameter and rare, threatened, or endangered trees of any size.

The city’s permit database shows no applications for development or improvements at the property.

The property is owned by Kathy and Kenneth Clark, and Carol Plain, who live in Bellevue, Washington, according to Marion County property records. Efforts to reach the owners were unsuccessful.

Smith said the property owner had not submitted a permit application to remove trees. If significant trees were removed, the cutting wouldn’t be allowable under city code.

City code allows property owners to remove trees from large properties without a permit as long as they don’t remove more than five trees or 15% of trees, whichever is greater, within a year. Property owners can’t remove heritage trees, significant trees and trees in riparian corridors.

The Salem City Council was poised at a Dec. 6 meeting to vote on a bill that would modify the city’s Unified Development Code to reduce the size of Oregon white oaks that can be removed from 24 to 20 inches in diameter. The council will hold another public hearing on the code changes at its Dec. 13 meeting.  

Smith said the city’s Community Development Department will be looking into the issue and should have a report next week.

Code Compliance staff will also follow up with the property owner, he said.

If the property owners are found to have violated Salem’s code, they can be held responsible for restoring the trees or face a fine. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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