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One sequoia may stay


After a lingering discussion on the 50-year-old sequoias that remain a Woodburn trademark to many local residents, a decision for one of the trees was recently reached.

The sequoia, which has been pared down to allow power lines to pass through, is planned to be removed by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as the I-5 Interchange project proceeds with the building of a sound wall along Highway 214. However, the status of the southeastern tree is currently pending.by: FILE PHOTO - Two sequoias stand along Highway 214, in the way of a future sound wall. ODOT and the nearby homeowner has agreed to remove the one on the left. The future of the sequoia on the right remains uncertain.

Tim Potter, ODOT’s area 3 manager for region 2, homeowner Trevan Nelson and Jim Cox, Nelson’s attorney, came to the settlement in principle last week, according to Cox.

“The two sides have agreed in principle and the homeowner’s attorney is now getting the paperwork ready,” said Jason Horton, Woodburn’s communications coordinator.

Horton suspects the paperwork will be complete in about two weeks.

The interchange project development of a 13- to 18-foot sound wall located on its northeast corner, which is closest to the trees, is scheduled to begin in April. The tree removal will begin during this phase of the project.

“We really tried to work with the community and the city of Woodburn as best we could to accommodate their desires and their needs and what our needs were as well,” said Lou Torres, ODOT’s region 2 public information officer. “I think this is going to come to a positive resolution because of that, because we worked so hard.”

Torres emphasized the permits would hold ODOT harmless for any damage done to the trees through the tree removal and the development of the interchange project.

Due to ODOT placing two separate significant tree removal permits for each tree, the remaining application for the one sequoia stands in limbo until further notice.

Cox presumed that the second application remaining will be reactivated by ODOT.

“One way it will be resolved is that ODOT will leave the tree on my client’s property and will cut down the second tree if the permit is granted,” said Cox. “If the permit is denied, I don’t know exactly what ODOT will do, but obviously if the city denies the permit ODOT has a dilemma.”

When all agreements are settled, a final decision will be made under the Woodburn Development Ordinance by Jim Hendryx, Woodburn’s economic development services director.