Loading...
05-02-2006 PLANNING COMMISSION Minutes CITY OF CHINO HILLS PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING/PUBLIC HEARING MINUTES MAY 2, 2006 CHINO HILLS COUNCIL CHAMBERS 2001 GRAND AVENUE CHINO HILLS, CALIFORNIA COMMISSIONERS PRESENT STAFF PRESENT AdamlEliason James DeStefano Abe Hovsepian Bradley E. Wohlenberg Art Bennett Winston Ward KarenlBristow Jeff Adams Luz Recca COMMISSIONERS ABSENT Mike Braun The Planning Commission Meeting of May 2, 2006, was called to order at 7:00 P.M. by Chairman Bristow, who then led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. ITEM #4 - PUBLIC COMMENTS None ITEM #5 - CONSENT CALENDAR a. Minutes: February 21, 2006 COMMISSION ACTION: The Planning Commission approved Item 5a. MOTION: Bennett SECOND: Eliason AYES: Hovsepian, Eliason, Bennett, Bristow NOES: None ABSENT: Braun b. Residential Design Review #308: 4922 Fairway Boulevard. A request by Jose Magallanes to add 1,652 square feet of livable space to an existing 853 square foot home. Commissioner Eliason felt it made more sense for the architect to duplicate the arch of the front door instead of the dual arch along the patio. Planning Commission Minutes—May 2, 2006 1 Jose Magallanes, property owner, responded that elimination of the column was a last minute change he requested. He showed the Commission a new rendering that matched Commissioner Eliason's recommendation. COMMISSION ACTION: The Planning Commission approved 5b as changed. MOTION: Hovsepian SECOND: Bennett AYES: Hovsepian, Eliason, Bennett, Bristow NOES: None ABSENT: Braun ITEM #6 - ACTION ITEMS a. Appointment of a Planning Commission Member to the Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee COMMISSION ACTION: The Planning Commission approved the appointment of Commissioner Eliason to the Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee. MOTION: Bennett SECOND: Hovsepian AYES: Hovsepian, Eliason, Bennett, Bristow NOES: None ABSENT: Braun .—, b. Tree Preservation Ordinance issues and Options Discussion. Community Development Director James DeStefano presented staff's report, a copy of which is on file in the Community Development Department. He asked the Commissioners to present their opinions about the possibility of preparing a tree ordinance for the City. Vice Chairman Bennett felt that the issue "an increase in real property values" had no place in a tree ordinance. Chairman Bristow felt that a tree ordinance did increase values. Commissioner Eliason believed it was more a matter of saving mature attractive trees and one benefit was that it increased the property values and in other areas proposed ordinances would respond to cases wherein it was more appropriate to remove trees in order enhance property values. Vice Chairman Bennett said that if under the ordinance a stand of trees was protected and could not be removed it could affect development such as in the Fieldstone Development, for example. He reiterated his belief the ordinance should not refer specifically to increasing values. Commissioner Eliason said he could envision an applicant coming before the City and saying that if the goal of the tree preservation ordinance was to increase property values and the homeowner wanted to remove his tree for particular concerns it could provide an impetus for the City to be asked to remove .the homeowner's tree. Chairman Bristow said that exact scenario had happened and homeowners had asked the City to. remove trees because the trees interfered with views and the homeowner did not like the leaves in his pool flowing from the park trees, etc. She felt the Commission should look at what the tree ordinance would do community-wide rather than just from the standpoint of developers. Planning Commission Minutes-May 2, 2006 2 Community Development Director DeStefano said that from staff's perspective this tree policy would be developed for private properties and there would be a separate discussion regarding trees within public right-of-ways. Vice Chairman Bennett said he would like to include more specific verbiage about preserving and protecting existing trees wherever possible. Commissioner Hovsepian agreed with Vice Chairman Bennett that it should not be a conceptual goal to increase property values by putting in trees. He said the very first item also bothered him and it should read: "enhancing community image and pride" instead of "enhancing visual and aesthetic qualities" because visual and aesthetics is a matter of interpretation. He agreed that the City needed a tree ordinance and that it should be clearly defined but the City should not depend on aesthetics and visuals, rather it should depend on the personal desire of each individual. Community Development Director DeStefano said that some cities have pruning requirements, however staff would not recommend a pruning requirement for Chino Hills. He asked the Commissioners what species of trees they felt would be candidates for preservation. Chairman Bristow felt the most important trees were the large oaks in the hill areas, and that Sycamores in the riparian areas and wild walnut trees should have consideration. She wondered if nature would eliminate the Eucalyptus trees at some point. Community Development Director DeStefano explained that most cities focus on trees that are " native to their community and to some extent a Pepper tree, unless it has a particular significance, is generally fair game. The hillside areas would focus on oak, California Black Walnut, Sycamores, Arroyo Willows and so forth. The only tree that is a bit unusual and indigenous to this area is the California Fan Palm. Vice Chairman Bennett said the palm might be native but not necessarily worth preserving. He felt that the trees referred to in hillside areas would be protected because the property could not be developed and that there was so little development opportunity remaining it would be a moot point. Chairman Bristow said that in Big Bear for example, if a resident removes a tree he pays a hefty fine and mitigates for its replacement. Assistant Community Development Director Winston Ward said that there were several options. Ultimately the County and Edison funded a good portion of the removal effort. The trees were not replanted. Chairman Bristow said that when communities have one kind of tree and some disaster hits it before nature can set up its defenses a great deal can be lost. Chairman Bristow felt the Pepper trees in the medians would cause the City a giant headache. Vice Chairman Bennett said he had a problem with #3 because he believed that above 4 inches should be doubled to 8 inches or increased to 12 inches. Chairman Bristow felt it was more than a question of size and that the ordinance should address Arborists' concerns. Community Development Director DeStefano said that most cities want an inventory of trees on sites intended for development and are most interested in inventories that they deem to be most important. And if it is the California Black Walnut, for example, the inventory is greater defined to incorporate California Black Walnuts of a certain trunk diameter or greater, generally around six to eight inches. As part of the inventory there has been a general requirement for a health report on the trees. And because there is a 10 inch very healthy California Black Walnut, it does not necessarily mean that that tree has to be preserved in place. Inventories help cities Planning Commission Minutes—May 2, 2006 3 identify which trees might be most appropriate for preservation, relocation and/or replacement. In some instances trees would be replaced at certain ratios such as a 3:1 ratio of 24-inch box trees, for example. Vice Chairman Bennett was concerned about the fiscal well being of the City and how costly it would be to have to inventory trees and reports in lieu of moving forward as the City had to date. Community Development Director said that what the City does not know is what soil conditions exist under the trees and whether the tree is on a large landslide that would require removal of the tree in order to preserve dwellings proposed for close proximity to the tree. Most cities look at tree preservation ordinances to include simple characteristics such as species, sizes of interest and general environmental quality issues. Most cities do not do the kinds of inventory and exhaustive research to acquire more precise information because it is costly and time consuming. Commissioner Eliason conveyed a story about a development having to ultimately work around a very large beautiful old oak tree in his southern California development and how the tree later became the focal point of the shopping center and was ultimately included in.the name of the center. The point of this story was to convey his feeling to have staff and applicants take a serious look at their developments to plan around some of the growth and make it fit into the project as long as the developer did not suffer a significant financial impact and, to have staff and developers look at ways to alter streets in order to keep trees and have maturity in neighborhoods instead of proposing stark developments. Without going line by line he would prefer to have staff and other pertinent parties spend time to develop a policy that allows the City to be creative in dealing with developers. Community Development Director DeStefano said that in some cities there is a process for removal of trees wherein up to three of a species for example, could be removed with the approval of City staff. In some cities, over certain numbers, say three for example, it requires the Planning Commission's approval. Such a scenario could be part of a room development where a particular type .or.'size of tree requires a Tree Removal: Permit as part of the application; or, ten large California Black Walnut trees-need to be removed as part of a housing subdivision project and a Tree Removal Permit for 10 trees is part of the Commission's discretionary bundle when considering the overall'project. As an-example, the very large tree that may have aesthetica) and historical value may be a tree that would have been removed at staff level; or, it could only be removed if the Planning Commission considered the removal as part of the overall'shopping center project. There are many different ways to word a tree ordinance. • ' . + Vice Chairman Bennett agreed with Commissioner Eliason that the Commission would most likely concur with a policy that allowed for consideration of special circumstances in order to appropriately respond to the citizens. Community Development Director DeStefano agreed and said that conversely, there would be occasions that the very large old oak tree might have to be removed to serve the greater public need. Sometimes the removal of a tree is good with respect to public safety and transportation goals. Sometimes developers can work around trees. Commissioner Hovsepian asked if the City could include within the permit process when a tree could be removed and Community Development Director responded affirmatively. Community -- Development Director DeStefano responded to Commissioner Eliason that if the City's broader policy were to permit and encourage single-family home development in the hillsides, trees Planning Commission Minutes—May 2, 2006 4 would have to be removed. If in Chino Hills the hillside slopes that remained were good candidates for tree replacement the City would have to determine an appropriate ratio and what size and quantity of trees would be appropriate for replacing the lost trees. A lot of factors in determining size and ratio of trees have to do with environmental quality, aesthetics, type of trees, how fast the tree grows, what density is acceptable to the site and so forth. Some cities prefer replacement pallets that •are native and therefore brown and some cities prefer replacement pallets that are not necessarily native and oftentimes much more green. To some extent staff would need to provide copies of tree ordinances for other cities and to some extent staff's recommendations would be based on what it felt was most appropriate and what past practices the City had followed. Vice Chairman Bennett asked if the maintenance of living trees would be appropriate for inclusion within the ordinance and Community Development Director DeStefano responded that this could be the appropriate document for inclusion of maintenance concerns. Generally, however, that scenario is more often part of Homeowner Associations and/or Lighting and Landscape Districts. If not, enforcement is difficult. City's can establish standards but in reality it is very difficult to manage and enforce. If a tree creates an impassable situation typically the city steps in and through code enforcement seeks relief. Sometimes cities will step in and work with the homeowner. When a tree starts to lift a sidewalk or impede utilities the city usually attempts to work with the homeowner for remediation. Assistant City Attorney Bradley Wohlenberg stated that oftentimes when cities are dealing with tree replacement or relocation there is more of a nexus when the city is dealing with entitlements for property development. If the city's ordinance applied to general maintenance for all existing trees and all previously entitled properties it would be more difficult to enforce and tend to be a reactive type of enforcement. California law is clear that if there is an encroachment by a tree onto a public right-of-way the city has the right to remove the nuisance by following the proper process. Commissioner Eliason said the balance of the proposed ordinance seemed fairly straightforward and he would recommend leaving the matter to staff to prepare a draft ordinance based on the Commission's input. Community Development Director DeStefano said that staff would compile the information and frame a draft document in the next several months. He thanked the Commissioners for their input. Chairman Bristow believed the City should be careful to require immediate relocation of trees to effect their survival. She recommended staff look into the Arborist's Book to determine the definition and cost for replacement as well as determine the fines for failure to complete the required mitigation. Commissioner Eliason felt there should be consideration for developers to replace trees on o"r off site at a value equal to the economic gain he enjoyed by being allowed to remove trees from the site. tzlos w NW., ITEM #7 - PUBLIC HEARING • • None ' • -• Planning Commission Minutes—May 2, 2006 5 ITEM #8 - STAFF PRESENTATIONS Community Development Director DeStefano announced that at its recent meeting the City Council approved the Villa Borba project as forwarded. by.the.,Planning Commission. He announced that the next• Planning Commission a would include several projects and the equestrian overlay for discussion purposes as well as other agenda items.. • I. r ITEM #9 - COMMISSION INFORMATION e, • a. City Council Unofficial Action Agenda of March 28, 2006 . r ITEM #10 - COMMISSIONER COMMENTS None • ITEM #11 - STAFF COMMENTS None The Planning Commission Meeting of May 2, 2006 was adjourned at 8:15 P.M. to the next regularly scheduled meeting. Li Luz Recc • Planning Commission Secretary • APPROVED AT PLANNING COMMISSION JUN 6 2006 CITY OF CHINO HILLS Planning Commission Minutes—May 2, 2006 6 1