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Langley tree ordinance has exceptions

Which trees can be cut will be made more clear by the Langley tree ordinance, discussed by the city’s planning advisory board or PAB last week.

Director of Community Planning Jeff Arango said the PAB talked about the tree rules for nearly 30 minutes at the recent meeting. Consensus was reached with the amendments and ordinance to move the document to a public hearing, likely to be held in May, though a date was not set.

Amendments to the tree ordinance include setting up a site review process, Arango said, which will review non-residential and multi-family residential projects. Trees that are at least 12 inches in diameter at chest height will need a permit to be cut.

“This would require you to explain the rhyme or reason why you’re clearing a property,” Arango said.

Several exceptions were added to the tree cutting permit, however. For example, cutting a tree that blocks a view, or one that’s a property or safety risk, would not require a permit. Also, permits would be free.

The PAB also heard an update from developer Paul Schell, who owns the Inn at Langley and is constructing a building near the marina. He proposed a public elevator and bridge — dubbed the Langley Lift — that would connect pedestrians from Cascade Avenue to the waterfront near South Whidbey Harbor.

Arango said the city is waiting for cost estimates that will determine how much Langley would pay for the project. The funicular, a tram with a Saratoga Passage-facing pod that moves up and down the bluff, is still an option for the city.

“It’s good to see the design progressing,” Arango said, who added that maintenance cost was an important factor. “We need to have all the estimates on the costs.”

Arango said the city hopes to move the project forward within two years.

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