VENETA, Ore — Many neighbors in the Trinity Terrace subdivision in Veneta say they moved to the neighborhood for the trees, but this week, they found out the greenways behind their houses they thought were protected, are not actually as safe as they thought.
The Cummings live right at the end of Trinity Street, on a lot they hand-picked for it’s picturesque view.
“We just liked the end of the street because of the trees, and that our living room looked out to the trees,” said Tom Cummings, a Trinity Terrace neighbor.
The Cummings figured at some point, the privately-owned land just east of their subdivision could be developed, but they were told the creek and greenway just on the other side of their fence would be safe, but it didn’t sound that way Monday morning.
“My wife heard chainsaws, and I heard chainsaws, but we didn’t think much of it,” said Cummings.
“We kind of just thought they were clearing brush or something, and yesterday was the first time we found out they were going to remove all these trees,” said Jim Fulks, another Trinity Terrace neighbor.
Neighbors met to discuss the logging that was in full swing across the creek, and decided to write letters to city officials, who they were expecting more of a response from.
“They’re going to log this, and there was never ever any communication from the city whatsoever,” said Cummings.
Turns out, the City of Veneta says, since the trees fall under the 18-inch size limit listed in the city tree ordinance, there was no application process for the property owner, and therefore no requirement for the city to notify neighbors of the logging.
“When we get applications, when we’re actually dealing with a permit, there are land use actions where we do notify property owners, but since there’s no permit, we wouldn’t need to notify property owners of this,” said Kay Bork, with the City of Veneta.
However, neighbors still feel the greenway should be off limits, at the least.
“All these neighbors, all they want them to do is don’t cut down the trees in the greenway, which makes sense because they were under the impression when they bought these houses that the greenway would remain in tact,” said Fulks.
“We understand this is private property and that they have the right to log the logs, but the compromise would be to log their logs and leave what’s in the greenway,” said Cummings.
With those trees in the greenway also within city size specifications, officials say they’re fare game as well.
The City’s greenway ordinance lists certain activity that is not allowed in greenways, including development and removal of certain species, but trees under 18 inches in diameter, are not protected in that section of city law.
Neighbors say they spoke with City officials and will attend next week city council meeting to talk about the tress, but the city says everything the property owner is doing is within his legal rights, and their hands are tied, unless the property owner offers to spare the greenway.