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Trees fall, emotions rise

Jacksonville retirement complex project hits a roadblock after the city questions extent of tree-removal effort; some neighbors say they're upset with the work

JACKSONVILLE ' The recent clearing of dozens of trees to make way for a retirement community at Fifth and G streets has neighbors upset and the city concerned that more trees were cut than were approved.

They did not cut in accordance with their approved tree-removal plan, said City Administrator Paul Wyntergreen, adding that four extra trees were cut down at the site of the future Pioneer Retirement Community. We told them to stop any further cutting until this is clarified.

Owner Jeff Chamberlain said an arborist had recommended removal of the trash trees and that only two extra trees were cut down after they were accidentally damaged.

Clearing of the trees, which ranged from sumac to mature fir, began Sept. 6 in the woods between Jackson Creek and Valley Lane.

The &

36;15 million, 6.5-acre Pioneer Retirement Community will have 102 units consisting of 60 independent apartments, 30 assisted-living apartments and about a dozen cottages near Jackson Creek.The complex will include a medical building and pharmacy as well as retail spaces. Chamberlain, who owns several senior living communities in the Northwest, began winding his way through city zoning and planning for this project in the mid-1990s.

— Some residents, who have been attending planning meetings, don't like what's happening to the neighborhood.

They weren't supposed to clear-cut, they were supposed to leave some, said Sharon Andersen, who lives on Valley Lane behind the planned community. She said she's also now bothered by the view of slash piles out her window.

Clara Wendt, former Jacksonville mayor and a Jacksonville resident for 54 years, owns the private Valley Lane as well as a rental house on the street. She lives nearby on G Street.

She said she's been following the project all along and was surprised to see so many trees cut.

We thought they would save six or seven of the trees, she said. There was a beautiful old fir in the center.

Wendt said woody piles and dirt are all that remain where just weeks before fawns were seen curled up in the woods.

Progress is fine and so on, but it just seems as if it's been an overwhelming thing, she said.

Andersen said this is not her first issue with the project. She got involved a couple of years ago to fight the construction of the project's three-story building in a one- and two-story historic town.

Wyntergreen said as far as he knew there were only two other buildings in Jacksonville with three above-ground stories, which are Gogi's Restaurant and Cascade Christian High School.

Wyntergreen said extensive landscaping is planned for the project. He also said seasonal Jackson Creek, which now is partly filled in with dirt, will be replaced by a deeper channel once the project's complete. Chamberlain has the necessary permits for stream work, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

They're going to reconfigure the creek and rehabilitate with riparian planting, Wyntergreen said. It should be an enhancement for that area.

The city is requiring Chamberlain to submit an amendment to his plan to account for the extra trees that were cut and to hire a responsible party to oversee the clearing and replanting, Wyntergreen said.

Chamberlain said the Oregon Department of Transportation's recent work on Highway 238 set his project back about six months, but the cottages should be ready by March and the main building open in just over a year.

Most of the cottages are already spoken for, he said.

For more information on the project, contact Sheri Parker, marketing director, at 944-2730.

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Construction crews prepare a site for the Pioneer Retirement Community at Fifth and G streets in Jacksonville. Clearing the site has caused concern among neighbors and the city over the number of trees cut down. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell