Developer can remove trees before housing plat review complete

An Andover housing developer received permission from the Andover City Council Feb. 18 to begin clearing trees before the entire planning process is complete, but not before the city’s natural resources technician evaluates what is being done.

Larry Emmerich received approval to begin removing trees for the first phase of his project, but will be coming back to the council March 4 to request additional tree removals beyond what was approved Feb. 18, according to Community Development Director David Carlberg.

Emmerich in 2006 received preliminary plat approval from the council to construct 60 single family homes on property north of 161st Avenue and east of Hanson Boulevard. To date, only 15 homes have been built in the White Pines Wilderness development.

In 2010 he sold 20.6 acres of this property to the city for $320,000 through the open space preservation program.

Emmerich recently filed a revised preliminary plat for the remaining developable land, according to Carlberg.

Carlberg said the city usually does not allow a property owner to clear trees until there is a public hearing on the preliminary plat and final approval of site planning issues. If he was any other property owner not planning to develop, he could have removed trees already.

Carlberg told the council that it makes sense for Emmerich make this request.

“This is a good time to remove trees,” Carlberg said. “We typically say do not prune in April, May, or June. That’s when you have the oak wilt and different issues that can happen, so it’s a prime time for him to look at tree removal. We don’t have weight restrictions on roads yet in case he has to haul something out.”

Councilmember Mike Knight asked if this would be a clear cutting of trees.

“We don’t have the full extent of what’s going to be removed,” Carlberg responded. “That’s why we want our natural resources technician to do a site visit. He’s going to have to remove substantial trees to make that site work for utilities. Whether he does it today, he will have to do it once the preliminary plat is approved or grading plan is approved.”

Emmerich told the council that he wants to preserve as many of the quality oaks on-site as possible, which is why he would like to remove trees as soon as possible before oak wilt season.

Carlberg said neighboring residents will be notified so they are aware of what is happening.

“(Emmerich) would like to get trees removed while we’re reviewing his preliminary plat, drainage plan, tree protection plan,” Carlberg said. “We’re in agreement with that provided the residents get notified. But he will be doing this prior to the plat coming forward.”

There is a survey on this property that Andover Natural Resources Technician Kameron Kytonen can review and a draft grading plan has been done, Carlberg said.

This property is immediately west of the land the city purchased from Emmerich in 2010 and south of the 25.73 acres the city purchased in January from Richard and Donna Aasness. Both of these open space properties are connected and there are plans to provide a gravel parking lot and better access once more of Emmerich’s housing development moves forward, according to Carlberg.

Eric Hagen is at
[email protected]