BNA members, Pen 2 and others met last Friday with Dave McAllister, Urban Forester for the city of Portland to gather facts in anticipation of Pen 2's permit request to cut trees along Bridgeton Road.
The attorneys for the City and Pen 2 traded arguments several times on this issue whether Pen 2 needs permits to cut trees on the levee, or at least for most of them or does not need permits. And while there were some pointed questions of Dave McAllister to the Pen 2 representatives, the upshot was that the Drainage District has not applied for a permit to cut trees, and until they do, the Urban Forester can really not do much of anything. He did state that he expected Pen 2 to have a "mitigation plan" attached to any permit request, even though Dave Hendricks made quite a point of stating that he did not feel they should have to do this.
The City Attorney explained the Tree permit code and why and how it applied to Pen2.
Pen 2 argued that the tree removal was an "Emergency", which according to the City code would waive the requirement for permits or mitigation. GeoDesign said they would write up and stamp a statement saying there was no immediate emergency. In addition, GeoDesign stated that winter months, during high saturation, is the best time for compacting sand. An argument that negates Penn2's position that the work is weather driven.
BNA argued that the corps has noted in annual eligibility inspections the trees as needing maintenance since 1987 and Pen 2 has done no tree or vegetation maintenance during those 20 years and has not informed landowners of any tree threatening the levee or posing an "Emergency." For those 20 years trees could have been trimmed, pruned, thinned to manage vegetation and prevent encroachment in to the critical core and with infrastructure.
New development could have planted levee compliant trees, residents could have planted levee compliant trees or located trees to prevent violating the corps policy. IF SUCH AN EMERGENCY - WHY NO INFORMATION OR NOTICE FOR 20 YEARS FROM PEN 2 ?
McAllister stated that BNA had e-mailed to the City and McAllister the communication Alise Goforth had directly with FEMA explaining that flood insurance and disaster relief are always available and unrelated to whether a levee is certified or not.
Additionally, FEMA explained that Mandatory Flood Insurance would not be required until September 2009 when FINAL MAPS are released. Penn2 has until September 2009 to get levee certified. Also, FEMA has a grandfathering program so that all existing construction can obtain flood insurance at the reduced rates, if required. [emphasis added - LD]
At the end of the meeting, McAllister suggested that both sides (BNA and Pen 2) should go back to the negotiating table and hammer out a mitigation plan that we both could live with before any permits are requested.
I understand from some neighbors that Pen 2 has hired a company to remove the roots of the already cut trees at the Yacht Club end of the road. As some of those roots are fairly substantial in diameter and go under Marine Drive and Bridgeton Road - I do wonder how all this will be done - because in court - Pen 2 said they were going to fill in the excavated root areas with sand.
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