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Monday, June 04, 2001

Call To Order

Mayor Alan Merkle called the meeting to order at 7:35 pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, WA.

Roll Call

City Councilmembers Susan Blake, Bryan Cairns, Judy Clibborn, Sven Goldmanis, Dan Grausz, El Jahncke and Mayor Alan Merkle were present.

Appearances
Scott McMurray, 3623 74th Avenue SE, expressed his opposition to the 2 proposed stop signs on 72nd Avenue and presented a petition signed by approximately 100 residents requesting that the signs be removed from the 2002-2007 Transportation Improvement Plan.

Pauline Reiter, 3620 74th Avenue SE, expressed her opposition to the 2 proposed stop signs on 72nd Avenue, as well as to the process by which the signs came to be included in the Transportation Improvement Plan.

Bill Northrop, 2926 71st Avenue SE, requested that the Council consider taking a special look at the issue of development and redevelopment in the First Hill area. Mr. Northrop presented a set of letters from his neighbors regarding the same issue, and asked that the Council work to support growth and property values in the area while also protecting the character of the neighborhood.

Alan Michael, 7030 SE Maker Street, expressed his opposition to the proposed stop signs on 72nd Avenue and asked that the Council consider alternate methods of controlling speed in the area.

Steven and Adrienne Schoenfeld, 6120 94th Avenue SE, expressed their opposition to the placement of a pedestrian trail in the easement adjacent to their home, siting concerns about security and their landscaping.

Minutes

It was moved by Councilmember Blake; seconded by Councilmember Goldmanis to:

Approve the Study Session and Regular Meeting Minutes of May 21,2001 amended to include a question for the record from Councilmember Jahncke regarding the location of the minutes from the Council’s annual retreat in March.

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Passed 7-0.

Consent Calendar
Payables: $ 347,697.82  
Payrolls: $ 412,658.10

AB 3587 Kiwanis Fireworks Permit
Approve the permit to allow for the sale of Class C Fireworks by the Mercer Island Kiwanis Club in conjunction with Independence Day 2001.

AB 3588 Summer Celebration Fireworks Display Application
Approve the fireworks display applications submitted by Western International Fireworks, for a display on July 13, 2001 near Faben Point sponsored by Summer Celebration. (Pending approval of the United States Coast Guard.)

AB 3586 2000 Roadway Improvements Project Acceptance
Accept the completed 2000 Roadway Improvements Project and authorize staff to close out the contract.

It was moved by Councilmember Jahncke; seconded by Councilmember Blake to:

Approve the Consent Calendar items and the recommendations contained therein.

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Passed 7-0.

Regular Business

AB 3583 Adoption of the 6-Year Transportation Improvement Plan
(Removed From Consent Calendar)

There was no formal staff presentation on this item.

Mayor Merkle opened the floor for public comment.

Debby Lloyd, 2435 72nd Avenue SE, stated that stop signs are used for the purpose of controlling speed in other locations on the Island, suggesting that there is a precedent for using the signs in that way along 72nd Avenue.

Daniel Morgan, 2754 70th Avenue SE, expressed his opposition to the 2 proposed stop signs on 72nd Avenue.

Steve Bryan, 2426 70th Avenue SE, also expressed his opposition to the 2 proposed stop signs on 72nd Avenue.

Ann Gibson, 2734 72nd Avenue SE, stated that she appreciated the concerns of her neighbors with regard to the two proposed stop signs on 72nd Avenue, but asked that they try them out and see what happens.

Mark Simon, 2505 70th Avenue SE, expressed his opinion that the installation of 2 stop signs on 72nd Avenue would worsen the condition of the traffic on 70th Avenue SE.

Carol Morgenstern, 2947 72nd Avenue SE, appeared before the Council to request that everyone make an effort to drive at or under the posted speed limit on 72nd Avenue SE.

Mayor Merkle closed the public comment period and moved to Council discussion of the 6-Year Transportation Improvement Plan.

Transportation Planner Nancy Fairchild responded to Councilmember Blake’s question about whether or not the city had responded to the letter from second-grader Charles Rind.

It was moved by Councilmember Clibborn; seconded by Councilmember Blake to:

Remove the traffic safety and pedestrian improvements on 72nd Avenue SE between SE 24th and SE 32rnd from the 6-Year Transportation Improvement Plan.

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Failed 3-4 (Proponents: Blake, Clibborn, Jahncke).

It was moved by Councilmember Grausz; seconded by Councilmember Blake to:

Adopt the Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for 2002-2007 with the inclusion of:

  • Traffic safety and pedestrian improvements on 72nd Avenue SE, between SE 24th and SE 32nd Street.
  • Trail development at the 6100 block of East Mercer Way.
Adopt Ordinance No. 01-03 to amend the City Budget to include funding for the aforementioned transportation projects.

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Passed 7-0.

Additional direction given to staff was to:

Study and evaluate the traffic flow and related public safety issues of the entire First Hill neighborhood. Further, develop as a part of this study a process by which the affected community can participate in making decisions about this and other similar roadway and roadside improvements in their neighborhood (with the intention that this process can be replicated in the future when improvements are requested in other areas on the island).

AB 3584 AT&T Cable Rates for 2001
Councilmember Jahncke asked for clarification regarding the language of Resolution No. 1284.

It was moved by Councilmember Clibborn; seconded by Councilmember Jahncke to:

Adopt Resolution No. 1284, establishing rates for basic cable service, installation and equipment charges by AT&T effective July 1, 2001, as amended in the following sections to read:

“1.C The 3H calculation yields a $12.70 per month rate for the basic service tier. AT&T agrees with this calculation. AT&T has chosen an “operator selected” rate of $12.61.

1.D. The following rates are consistent with those permitted. Operator-selected rates set forth below are the maximum rates that AT&T can charge effective July 1, 2001.“

The Chair put the question on the motion; Motion Passed 6-1 (Councilmember Goldmanis dissenting).

AB 3582 Public Hearing: Tree Ordinance
City Attorney Londi Lindell opened the item with the Mercer Island Planning Commission recommendations on the proposed tree regulations. Ms. Lindell explained that the Planning Commission’s recommendations primarily focused on areas (including the regulation of trees on flat lots, pruning for view on public property, and the issue of landmark trees) upon which the Council had not previously reached consensus.

Development Services Director Richard Hart followed Ms. Lindell’s comments with the staff presentation and recommendation regarding the tree regulations.

Mayor Merkle opened the Public Hearing.

Carolyn Boatsmen, 3210 74th Avenue SE, expressed her support for the basic ordinance and requested that the landmark tree provision be strengthened.

Jag Hajari, 2241 66th Avenue SE, requested that the Council take a balanced approach to settling the issue of trees vs. views on the Island, and expressed his support for the prospect of pruning for view on public property.

David Williams, 3453 74th Place SE, expressed his opposition to the idea of pruning for view on public property.

Sarala Hajari, 2221 66th Avenue SE, asked the Council to protect views on the Island.

Layton Burton, 2247 66th Avenue SE, stated his opinion that the tree ordinance should be flexible, should avoid regulating trees on private property, and should include a provision allowing for the pruning of trees on public property.

Pran Wahi, 2242 66th Avenue SE, expressed the opinion that the tree ordinance should allow for the pruning of trees on public property for view protection.

Tom Samuelson, 4629 84th Avenue SE, expressed his support for an ordinance that would allow for the pruning of trees on public property for the purpose of protecting views.

Ira Appelman, 6213 83rd Place SE, opposed the draft ordinance as presented by staff, calling it overregulation on the part of the City.

Cathy Herzog, 3641 73rd Avenue SE, expressed her support for a minimum tree canopy on the Island.

Dave Soracco, 7209 76th Avenue SE, expressed his opposition to the replacement tree provision in the proposed tree ordinance.

Anne Fox, 2981 74th Avenue SE, expressed her support for the draft ordinance with the exception of the flat lot provision. Ms. Fox asked the Council to regulate flat lots in such a way as to protect the tree canopy on the Island and suggested the development of incentives that might compel residents to plant more trees.

Rob Kessler, 4438 Ferncroft Road, expressed his opposition to the regulation of flat lots and requested that the City send a mailing explaining the proposed tree regulations to all Island residents.

Cynthia Howe, 6 Holly Lane, stated her opinion that trees on public property should be protected for all Island residents and expressed her support for the landmark tree provision of the proposed ordinance. Ms. Howe also asked that the proposed tree ordinance be made clearer and easier to understand.

David Raymond, 4160 95th Place SE, expressed his support for the Planning Commission recommendations with the exception of the provision prohibiting pruning for view of trees on public property.

James Owens, 8012 SE 71st Street, expressed his support for the landmark tree portion of the proposed ordinance and proposed that the City prohibit pruning for view in public parks, open spaces, and green belts but allow for pruning in right of ways and along property lines.

Susan Morrison, 3453 74th Place SE, expressed her opinion that the tree ordinance should promote stewardship of the tree canopy on the Island and stated her opposition to pruning for view on public property. She also asked that the City keep Island residents more informed about tree regulations and the enforcement thereof.

Barbara Shuman, 3434 74th Ave SE, stated her concern that the nature of the Island was changing too quickly and asked that the Council protect the urban forest.

George Smith, 6820 96th Avenue SE, stated his opinion that the proposed tree ordinance was unnecessary, calling it a “draconian scheme.” Mr. Smith also stated that the ordinance as proposed gave too much discretionary power to city staff and that the expansion of tree regulations to include private property was unacceptable.

Harold Fretheim, 2926 72nd Avenue SE, expressed his concerns about the regulation of trees on private property.

Steve Bryan, 2426 70th Avenue SE, stated his opinion that private interests should not guide the public process. Mr. Bryan also expressed his opposition to the regulation of trees on private property.

Barbara Turnalow, 7847 SE 40th, asked for Council clarification of the definitions of “landmark tree” and “flat lot”.

Mary Hall, 4006 East Mercer Way, stated that the proposed tree ordinance went too far in terms of regulation.

Glen Sparrow, 2220 82nd Avenue SE, asked that the Council protect land values on the Island by allowing for pruning of trees on public property to protect views.

Horrace Hall, 4006 East Mercer Way, expressed his opposition to the regulation of trees on private property and stated that any tree ordinance should take into consideration that trees grow.

Roger Boland, 7834 SE 32nd, stated his opinion that the proposed tree ordinance eliminated the opportunity for citizens to self-regulate.

Fred Weiss, 3410 97th Avenue SE, asked that the council regulate public, not private, property, stating that the “government that governs best is often the government that governs least.”

Emily Woodsen, 2760 76th Avenue SE #604, expressed her support for the proposed tree ordinance.

Marguerite Sutherland, 2425 95th Avenue SE, a former Mercer Island City Councilmember, asked why the activities and recommendations of the now-disbanded tree task force had not been included in the City’s chronology of tree regulations on the Island. Ms. Sutherland also expressed her support for the regulation of trees on flat lots and her opposition to the idea of pruning for view on public property.

Mayor Merkle closed the Public Hearing and moved to Council discussion of the proposed tree ordinance.

Council discussed the possibility of adding to the ordinance a legal requirement that it be revisited and evaluated in one year.

It was moved by Councilmember Grausz; seconded by Councilmember Jahncke to:

Adopt Ordinance No. 01C-04 with the stipulation that amendments would be forthcoming.

It was moved by Councilmember Goldmanis; seconded by Councilmember Grausz to: Amend the following sections of Ordinance No.01C-04:

1. Emergency Notification – 19.10(B)(3)(a): reduces notice period to 7 days per suggestion of Planning Commission.

(a) Emergency. No tree permit is required to cut a tree in an emergency situation involving immediate danger to life or property or substantial fire hazards so long as the city arborist is notified within 7 days of the tree having been cut, and is provided such additional information as the city arborist may request in order to verify the emergency;

2. Flat Lots – 19.10(B)(3)(c): eliminates 20-year provision with respect to replacement trees and reduces minimum aggregate diameter requirement from 5” to 4”:

(c) Unprotected Property. No tree permit is required to cut a tree on unprotected property unless:

(i) it is being done incident to construction work that is occurring on any part of the lot;

(iii)(ii) the tree is a landmark tree or part of a landmark grove; or

(iiiv) the cutting will reduce the tree diameter ratio below 4 5 “ of aggregate tree diameter per 1000 square feet of lot area.

3. Survey Requirement-Watercourse Corridors/Wetlands – 19.10(B)(5)(h): clarifies when survey must be provided with tree permit application per suggestion of Planning Commission.

h. As to a permit requested for cutting or pruning in a watercourse corridor, within a wetland or within the area that extends 25 feet beyond the delineated wetlands edge, the applicant must agree not to use any power equipment within the watercourse corridor or wetlands without the written approval of the city arborist. If a dispute exists as to the location of the watercourse corridor or wetland, then the applicant shall provide a survey that is not more than one (1) year old of the watercourse corridor and its centerline or the edge of the wetland.

4. Period for City Review – 19.10(B)(6): reduces maximum time for tree permit application review by 10 days per suggestion of Planning Commission.

6. City Review. The city arborist shall complete a review and make a decision within 30 days from the date a complete application is submitted unless an extension, not to exceed 30 days, is authorized by the City Manager or designee.

5. Clarifying Language – Tree Permits on Unprotected Private Property – 19.10(C)(2)(a): clarifies language per suggestion of Planning Commission.

2. Trees on Private Property.

a. Unprotected Property - Permit Granted. A tree permit will be granted to cut a tree on unprotected property except that if the tree to be cut is a landmark tree or part of a landmark grove, Section K shall also apply.

6. Pruning of Public Trees – 19.10(C)(1)(c) – Option “A”: Allows pruning of public trees by private property owner.

c. By Private Property Owners. A private property owner may file a request to the city arborist for a tree permit covering the pruning of a tree on public property which may be granted if the applicant demonstrates that all of the following criteria are satisfied:

(i) the applicant is the property owner of property located within a three hundred foot (300’) radius of the subject tree;

(ii) the city provides written notice of the proposed pruning of the public tree to all property owners within a three hundred foot (300’) radius of the subject tree and such property owners may submit written comments to the city arborist to be considered in connection with granting any permit;

(iii) the applicant posts written notice of the proposed pruning of the public tree on the site in a location that is visible to the public right of way;

(iv) notice of the proposed pruning is published in the City’s official newspaper and the public is afforded an opportunity to submit comments on the application;

(v) the applicant submits a valid petition executed by at least sixty percent (60%) of the property owners located within a three hundred foot (300’) radius of the subject tree in favor of the proposed pruning of the public tree;

(vi) the pruning is limited to normal pruning and maintenance;

(vii) the pruning can be performed without adversely impacting the health of the trees to be pruned, of nearby trees or of the ecosystem within which the trees are located;

(viii) the pruning is done by a licensed tree contractor under the supervision of a certified arborist and at the sole cost and expense of the requesting property owners;

(ix) the pruning will not be injurious to the affected property or any critical areas or critical slopes;

(x) the pruning is not inconsistent with any other legitimate city purpose, including without limitation the aesthetic impacts of pruning the tree and the potential impacts on the symmetry of any street trees; and

(xi) the applicant shall record an indemnification agreement with King County Records, in form approved by the City Attorney, indemnifying the city against any liability for damages to persons or property as a result of any action taken pursuant to the tree permit.

A tree permit will not be granted under this Section C(1)

(c) as to any landmark trees, any tree in a landmark grove or any tree in any city park. Prior to reviewing any request under this Section C(1)(c), the City shall collect from the applicant a fee equal to the expected cost of performing that review plus a contingency equal to 20% of that expected cost. Amounts collected in excess of actual costs shall be refunded to the applicant.

7. Addresses Problem of Conflicts with Existing Restrictive Covenants & Recognizes “weedy” tree species – 19.10(C)(2)(b): ensures that a tree permit will be granted if the applicant needs it to comply with an existing restrictive covenant or to remove a common, short-lived “weedy” tree species.

b. Trees on Protected Private Property - Permit Criteria. A permit to cut trees on private property that is protected property will be granted if:

(i) it is necessary for safety, removal of hazardous conditions, removal of diseased or dead trees or required enhancement of the ecosystem;

(ii) it is necessary to enable construction work on the property to proceed and the owner has used reasonable best efforts to design and locate the project and carry out the construction work in a manner which minimizes the number of trees to be cut;

(iii) it is necessary to enable an applicant to satisfy its obligations under the terms and conditions of any covenant, condition or other restriction encumbering the lot that was recorded on or before June 1, 2001; or

(iv) the permit seeks to cut one of the following common, short-lived “weedy” tree species: Alder, Bitter Cherry, or Black Cottonwood. If the tree to be cut is a landmark tree or part of a landmark grove, Section K shall also apply.

8. Number of Replacement Trees – 19.10(C)(5): creates possibility of a zero replacement tree situation at the suggestion of the Planning Commission but provides guidance for when this might apply. Specifies that as to unprotected property where the tree permit is required due to the 4” per 1,000 square feet provision, the tree replacement ratio is 1:1.

5. Replacement Trees – Number. In making a determination regarding the quantity of replacement trees, the city arborist shall apply a standard replacement ratio for all trees cut based on a sliding scale ratio of 0-1 up to 4-1 depending upon the following site conditions:

a. size and shape of lot or site and area available to replant;

b. degree of slope, slope stability, topography and general soil conditions;

c. location of overhead and underground utilities;

d. current tree trunk size and canopy;

e. in the case of protected property, the existence and retention of other vegetative cover. For purposes of determining adequate protection, one factor that shall be considered by the city arborist is that areas with slopes over 30 percent and less than 40 percent require the retention of 65 percent of all vegetative cover and that areas with slopes that are 40% and above require the retention of 70 percent of all vegetative cover; and

f. proximity to a wetland, watercourse, critical slope or critical area.

In applying this Section C(5) for trees that are cut incident to construction work, the city arborist shall take into account all trees that are cut and not just those trees that are located outside of the building footprint. When the city is required to plant replacement trees or when replacement trees are placed on public property in lieu of being placed on private property, the ratio shall be three (3) replacement trees for every one (1) tree being cut. The 0-1 replacement ratio shall only apply as to those tree permits where requiring a replacement tree would not promote any of the purposes enumerated in Section 19.10(A). Notwithstanding the foregoing, when an applicant was required to obtain a tree permit as a consequence of Section 19.10(B)(3)(c)(iii) in order to maintain a minimum aggregate tree diameter on unprotected property, then there shall be one (1) replacement tree for every one (1) tree being cut.

9. Definitions – 19.10(L) & 19.16.010: Revises definition of “tree”, adds definition of “shrub” and modifies definition of “protected slope area” per suggestion of Planning Commission:

“Protected slope area” is the area within a 40 foot radius of the base of any tree but only if the slope of the area equals or exceeds 30%.

“Shrub” Any living woody plant characterized by having multiple vertical or semiupright branches originating at or near the ground including without limitation, rhododendrons, pyramidalis, laurel, boxwood and other ornamental shrubs.

“Tree” Any living woody plant other than a shrub, characterized by one main stem or trunk and many branches, having a trunk diameter of four or more inches measured 24 inches 4 ½ feet above ground level.

The Chair put the question on the amendment; Motion Passed 5-2 (Councilmembers Blake and Clibborn dissenting).

It was moved by Councilmember Cairns; seconded by Councilmember Jahncke to:

Amend Section K(1)(b) of the Ordinance as follows: Any person A property owner may propose to the City that a tree or grove of trees on the property owner’s property be designated as a landmark tree or landmark grove. Any Mercer Island resident may propose the same for any landmark tree on City property. No tree or grove of trees may be designated without the approval of the property owner(s) on which the tree or grove or any portion of the tree’s branches or canopy is located.

The Chair put the question on the amendment; Motion Passed 7-0.

It was moved by Councilmember Jahncke; seconded by Councilmember Goldmanis to:

Amend Section 6 of the Ordinance setting the effective date as 80 days after the date of publication.

The Chair put the question on the amendment; Motion Passed 6-1 (Councilmember Cairns dissenting).

It was moved by Mayor Merkle; seconded by Councilmember Blake to:

Amend Ordinance No. 01C-04 to include a provision requiring City staff to bring forth an analysis and report on the effects of the implementation of the Ordinance to be scheduled before the City Council no later than one year after the effective date.

The Chair put the question on the amendment; Motion Passed 7-0.

The Chair put the question on the main motion; Motion Passed 4-3 (Councilmembers Blake, Cairns and Clibborn dissenting).

Other Business

Councilmember Absences: Councilmember Jahncke to be absent for the June 21 City Council Mini Retreat on road improvements.

Planning Schedule: The Right-of-Way Tree Maintenance Program was added to the Planning Schedule under “items to be scheduled.”

Board Appointments: There were none.

Councilmember Reports: Councilmember Cairns re: the ETP meeting on Friday, June 8, and the issue of I-90.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned to Executive Session at 12:05 am, Tuesday, June 5, 2001, to discuss issues of property acquisition.

The Executive Session adjourned at 1:00 am, Tuesday, June 5, 2001.

[Important Note: The proceedings of the City Council meeting were recorded on tape and are filed in the City Clerk's Office. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also filed in the City Clerk's office.]

 

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