Tree removal comes with strict conditions

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On Dec. 8 the Planning Commission approved construction of 10 cabins on Drennon Dr., and commissioners, sitting as the Board of Zoning Adjustment, also approved the removal of 105 trees to make room for the cabins.

The tree-cut approval came with an extensive list of conditions. The application did not include a plan for replacing those trees on a one-to-one basis. The Special Conditions, proposed by commissioner Tom Buford, state that a Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued until the commission and the Building Inspector have approved a re-planting plan.

That plan must include the size, species, and location of new trees. The applicants must also describe how the new trees will be maintained for survival, and they agree to replace any trees dying within a year. Once the trees are removed, the applicant commits to the re-planting even if the cabin construction does not proceed.

The application explained that the trees to be removed “live within cabin footprints, utility paths, or new parking areas. Both civil and architectural teams thoughtfully designed the site layout to avoid trees as much as possible. Trees removed during construction will be replaced at a one-to one-ratio.”

The application included extensive documentation showing the proposed locations of the cabins, with pictures and drawings. The cabins are adjacent to Pine Mountain Village, although Drennon Dr. connects to E. Mountain St. The application also came with plans for the individual cabins. Commissioners complimented the design of the cabins, which are handicapped accessible.

Public meeting put on back burner

The agenda only included one other item, to discuss new permits for tourist lodging in R-2 zoning. Commissioner Ann Tandy-Sallee said she became concerned after hearing so much opposition to new tourist lodging on East Mountain. She said bed & breakfast operations have someone living on the site, while weekly tourist lodging does not have that requirement. Tandy-Sallee also complained of “some confusing language” in the city’s regulations and asked commissioners to consider a public meeting to consider the subject.

Commissioner Jodi Breedlove said a public meeting would typically elicit responses primarily from those opposed. “Our job is to take it case by case,” she said, reminding the others that the panel had seen good and bad proposals.

City Historic Preservation Officer Glenna Booth said the Jan. 12 meeting will have a full agenda, and the continuing presence of Covid would restrict a public meeting, although people could weigh in through email. Commissioners will revisit the topic in January, and they can decide then about the need for a public meeting.

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