Historic preservation advocates call for stronger enforcement after illegal tree removal | Local News


BOISE – Late last year, while renovating a property in North End, a family unknowingly demolished 10 old trees without a required permit. North Enders and others concerned about preserving the historic character and natural amenities of the City of Trees say this was the latest example of a trending problem.

Restoration and remodeling Projects threaten the appeal of Boise’s oldest neighborhoods, they say, and the city should take a more active role in enforcing historic neighborhood conservation guidelines.

Kate Henwood is co-chair of the North End Neighborhood Association’s Historic Preservation Committee, a group that advises neighbors and government agencies on issues that could affect the area’s historic integrity. When not “sprinting from chainsaw noise to chainsaw noise” herself, Henwood acts as a link between policymakers and North End residents, including those upset about the tree felling near 19th and Ada Streets. The illegal logging of trees last year is exactly the kind of phenomenon it wants to prevent.

“The loss is just really disorienting and obviously disturbing to the people who have looked at and enjoyed them for years,” she said of the trees.

Kate Henwood is standing in the back yard of her North End home on Friday, July 9th, 2021.

Those responsible have apologized. Patrick Gerety hired a local arborist to remove the trees – a mix of spruce, pine, linden, and other species – to make way for a new home for his in-laws, next to Gerety’s future home, which is also being renovated. Gerety had received bad information, he told the city’s heritage preservation commission during a meeting earlier this year. The arborist in charge incorrectly told him that no city permits were required to remove these trees.

In fact, trees in Boise’s 10 historic districts are regulated by the city’s planning staff, and a historic building permit, called a Certificate of Appropriateness, is required before these trees can be removed. The tree removal policy is one of a series of regulations governing residential and commercial property improvements or demolitions in historic neighborhoods. A 111-page document describes home design guidelines and the corresponding “Instructions for Preserving the Integrity of Historical Resources”.

Gerety apologized for the mistake during a commission meeting in February.

“We are a family. We are working people and the overall purpose of this project is to allow our families to be together, ”he said. “We never intended to piss off our neighbors, bother anyone emotionally, or disobey Boise’s rules and laws.

North End trees removed

Only tree stumps remain where trees once stood on a property on the corner of 19th and Ada Streets in the Boises neighborhood of North End, Thursday July 8, 2021.

Other changes in recent months have violated historical guidelines and angered residents. Homes in the North End and East End have been demolished or partially demolished without permission. Trees were removed during the bird nesting season, Henwood said. And heritage protection advocates say the recent case shows there is a need to raise awareness and enforcement.

“The situation on the 19th and Ada (Gerety’s property) was a wound for the North End and especially for the historic district, “said David Klinger, a North End resident who advocates urban planning.” We in the City of Trees need to teach people that trees are an integral part Is part of a historic district and that there is a process that trees can be felled, but you have to follow the process. “

The city resolved the dispute over the 19th and Ada trees by demanding that new trees be planted, which the landowners agreed to do through their lawyer. In March, the Historic Preservation Commission rejected an application for retrospective approval of the tree-felling permit and two additional permits to demolish the current house and relocate a canal – some neighbors are also against these plans. In June, despite sympathizing with the neighbors’ dissatisfaction, the city council overruled the commission and allowed the project to move forward.

“Our job here is to figure out what to do with it, not make a decision based on what should have been done the first time,” Councilor Patrick Bageant said during the June 29 session. “That’s punishment and retribution, and that’s not what we do.

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Mark Baltes, a former longtime board member of the North End Neighborhood Association, said educating the public about the historical guidelines was key to avoiding these situations. The other: enforcement that could result in fines, but that wasn’t the rule in historic neighborhoods, Baltes said.

“We cannot replace the 10 felled trees,” he said. “It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. What do you do afterwards?”

North End trees removed

A resident walks a tree-lined sidewalk along 19th Street in the Boises neighborhood of North End on Friday, July 9, 2021.

Boise’s design and development services division appears to be on the same page. Deputy Planning Director Cody Riddle said the city recently updated its tree removal website, created an instructional video for tree removal, sent letters to homeowners in historic neighborhoods with the requirements, and sent a similar letter to companies involved in removing trees Trees are allowed. Next, the city wants to step up enforcement to “put in place a process that someone has to go through that may be a little different from the typical filing process when it comes to illegal activity,” he said.

Monument protection advocates praise the city for such efforts, but are upset by the recent blows to the historic features of their neighborhood.

There is a “cumulative impact” that “frankly, is gradually killing our historic districts,” said Henwood.

Ryan Soup is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley Business Reporter for Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.