Ex-homeowner says he wants 70-year-old tree to stay

Neghbors angry with developer's plan to cut down tree at NE Portland home

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The former homeowner of a house on Northeast 22nd Avenue said he never would have sold the home if he knew a 70-year-old tree on the property would not be preserved.

Mark Kent moved to a new home in Vancouver after selling his Northeast Portland property last month, but he said he had no idea he sold it to a developer.

“They came in with cash. A cash offer of more than I was even asking, so sure, you know, that sounded good,” said Kent. “But cutting down this tree is just way too much. I loved it. The neighbors love that tree, and it will just change the character of that neighborhood way too much.”

Developer Vic Remmers said an investor who bought the property contacted him to let him know the lot was available. That buyer, according to title records, was Jodi Jennings of J2 Investments.

Kent said he was under the impression that Jennings was buying the Northeast Portland home to sell to a single family or eventually flip for a profit, but area realtors said the housing market in North and Northeast Portland are so popular that investors are buying homes for redevelopment.

The practice is leading to lot splitting and the demolishing of hundreds of existing homes.

Remmers said he wants to build a new home in the space that used to be the driveway of the house on Northeast 22nd Avenue.

However, in order for the new house to fit, a 70-year-old western red cedar tree must be cut down.

“Currently, the zoning code doesn’t offer protection for trees on private property unless the site is going through a land division process, specifically a subdivision or land partition process,” said Bureau of Development Services Supervising Planner Jill Grenda, who handles permits in the city.

Even though the lot is being divided to build a new home, the city is treating the project as a return to the historic, original plats when lots were smaller.

Meanwhile, the city is establishing new rules to better protect trees with neighborhood significance on private property. The only trees protected now are so called heritage trees.

Neighbors claimed the 70-year-old western red cedar tree is a heritage tree, but the city said it had not been designated as such.

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