City News

Unpermitted Oregon white oak cutting cost owners, developer $2,000 per tree in fines, city documents show

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

An out-of-state property owner, Salem developer and local tree service were fined $2,000 a pop for Oregon white oaks that were cut down on southeast Salem properties in December.  

The properties — 2792, 2828, 2832 Marietta St. S.E. and an un-addressed tax lot — are owned by Kathy and Kenneth Clark, and Carol Plain, who live in Bellevue, Washington, according to Marion County property records. 

Local developer Chuck Sides and Francisco Tolento of Willamette Valley Tree Service were also named in two enforcement orders from the city of Salem which totaled $138,187 in fines.  

City documents obtained by Salem Reporter through a records request offer more details about who was fined and the rate at which fines are assessed.  

When announcing the fines on Feb. 11, the city of Salem didn’t make the names of those fined available.  

According to the order issued Jan. 27, the Clarks, Plain, Sides and Tolento were fined $96,000 for removing 48 significant trees in December without any permits, a rate of $2,000 per tree. Significant trees are Oregon white oaks with a diameter of 24 inches or greater. 

When contacted by Salem Reporter, Sides said he didn’t have any comment and that his attorney Jason Thompson was handling the matter.  

“Call me back in two weeks and I suspect we’ll have something to talk about,” Sides said. 

Johnson said he’s filed a notice to appeal.  

Tolento didn’t return voicemail messages seeking comment.  Efforts to reach the property owners were unsuccessful.

The enforcement order said there were 189 trees on the two properties at 2792 Marietta Street. The four properties combined total 34.7 acres.  

The city imposed another $39,375 penalty for removing 35 non-significant trees at rate of $1,125 per tree at the property on 2793 Marietta St. S.E.  

The owners wouldn’t have needed a permit if they removed 28 trees or fewer, but they removed 111, the order said.  

There was an additional $2,812 fine for five of the nine trees removed from the property at 2832 Marietta St. S.E., because under city code no more than four should’ve been removed without a permit.  

On Dec. 22, Salem municipal Judge Jane Aiken signed an affidavit in support of an administrative warrant to allow city staff to inspect the Southeast Marietta Street properties to determine how many trees were cut down, their size and what species.  

The affidavit, issued by enforcement officer Anthony Hinkle, said the city didn’t have contact information for the Washington-based property owners and that Sides didn’t respond to an email sent to him.  

The city first found out about the cuttings after a citizen contacted them Dec. 4, saying a crew was across the street from the new Costco preparing to cut down 150 trees, many of which were white oaks.  

Hinkle went to the property on Dec. 6 and took photos of the downed trees from the road.  

Four days later, another code compliance officer, Deb Romano, posted “stop work orders” at the properties, posting them to light poles, a tree and a door.  

The property owners will be required to plant new trees that are equal in value to the trees removed, the city said in a news release Feb. 11.  

A search on the city’s permit portal didn’t reveal any development permits filed for the properties.   

In a Facebook post on Feb. 15, Councilor Tom Andersen said one of the Oregon white oaks was almost four feet wide. Andersen was summarizing a report from City Manager Steve Powers in the post.  

He said there were a significant amount of black walnut, maple, and Douglas fir trees that had also been cut down.  

“The city investigated the matter and has just rightfully, in my view, fined the developer over $138,000,” Andersen said.  

Previous reporting: Property owner fined $138,000 for cutting Oregon white oaks without permit

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

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

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