Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture

9-20-17 LMS

The City of Salmon has a code that calls for a 20 foot clear vision triangle at all street intersections and a clear vision triangle of 15 feet at all driveways. 

Larry and Laura Zuckerman were informed by the City of Salmon Planning and Zoning Department that their trees were in violation of that code. They, along with acting City/County P&Z Administrator Teresa Morton, discussed the situation with the Salmon City Council at its September 20 meeting.

Zuckerman explained the trees were planted14 years ago to protect their house after a near miss incident with an out-of- control, drunk driver. The trees have since grown into an unused portion of a city right-of-way and are causing a visual obstruction. Discovery of the encroachment on city property came from the investigation into the visual obstruction complaint. Larry Zuckerman proposed to the council that the city retain its right-of-way but allow the trees to remain where they are. The trees are not in the roadway but are two to three feet into the city’s right-of-way. He said if that permission is given he will have the lower tree limbs removed up to the required seven feet above ground level. 

Morton said she and Public Works Superintendent Harry Shanafelt met on-site with the Zuckermans and she advised that the tree limbs should be removed from the first seven feet of the tree trunks to meet the city’s Clear Vision Triangle code requirement. Morton also explained state law would not allow Planning and Zoning to grant right-of-way variance in this particular situation. 

The focus of the council’s discussion was on the city’s vision code. Shanafelt also brought up the matter of the roadside decorative bark and bricks around the trees which he said are obstructing parking space and causing vehicles to park halfway into the road. He said for safety sake it should be removed. 

City resident Jim Toynbee commented that if the Zuckermans are asked to do that, a task force needs to be sent out city-wide to enforce other tree trimmings. He said he remembers the days of no sidewalks and no way for people to know where property lines stopped or started. Toynbee also recalled the days when residents were encouraged to plant trees. He said limbing the Zuckerman trees to seven feet would make them look like sheared dogs.

Council President Jim Baker made a motion to accept the Zuckerman offer for the trees to be limbed to the seven foot requirement and it passed unanimously. He then made a motion that the decorative bark and brick in the right-of-way be moved back eight feet to make room for nosed-in parking. The vote on that motion resulted in a tie with Councilmen Neal James, Russ Chinske and Jim Bockelman voting ‘no’ and Ken Hill, Jim Baker and Rob Jackson voting ‘yes.’ Mayor Leo Marshall broke the tie by voting ‘yes.’ Zuckerman agreed to moving the bark and rock back to eight feet from the road. The limbed trees will stay where they are. 

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