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Tonight: Woodside council meets on ASRB changes, tree protection, library funding

 

The Architectural and Site Review Board in Woodside has seven members, as do the Planning Commission and Town Council. Does the ASRB need seven members? Might it be more effective, including shorter meetings, with five members?

That was one of several suggestions proposed to the council on Sept. 8, when three or four ASRB members happened to be present in the audience. The council meets again tonight (Sept. 22) at 7 p.m. at Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road, only this time the entire ASRB has been invited.

Also on the agenda: Revisiting Woodside's heritage tree protection ordinance, and considering a proposal to share with the county library system some $250,000 in annual property tax revenues now being sequestered for the exclusive maintenance of Woodside's library.

Modifying the ASRB

Along with a five-member board, the discussion would look at some other ideas:

■ Should the town engage one or more part-time architects to consult with building-permit applicants to refine their designs such that the ASRB is less likely to find conflicts with the town's general plan and residential design guidelines?

■ Should the load on the ASRB be made lighter by creating a zoning administrator position? A zoning administrator (actually the planning director) would meet in public session with applicants and architects to review small projects, including those in scenic corridors and western hills, accessory living quarters, fences and gates, outdoor lighting, and signs.

Protecting the trees

Woodside regulations require residents to get a tree removal permit before cutting down large trees, and when they don't, the fine is heavy. The first tree is $5,000, the second, $7,500, and each subsequent tree, $10,000.

Seldom if ever has the Town Council levied the full fine. During hearings before the council, a frequent question is whether a permit would have been granted had one been sought. An administrative review by staff could go some distance toward characterizing the incident and tailoring penalties to specific behavior, staff said.

Staff is recommending that the fine be reduced to 25 percent of the total if it's determined that a tree removal permit would have been granted. The reduction of fines would be 50 percent if it cannot be determined that a permit would have been granted. A finding that a permit would not have been granted would mean the full penalty.

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