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Updated 5:10 p.m., Oct. 7th–
Sentinel staff report– A proposed cemetery expansion project in Citrus Heights hit a roadblock during a Planning Commission hearing last month after commissioners were divided over whether to approve an associated tree removal plan that is part of the proposed expansion.
The applicant, East Lawn Mortuary, is seeking to expand into Citrus Heights. Its current grounds are located just outside the city limits on Greenback Lane, but its expansion would bring a portion of the grounds into Citrus Heights, necessitating approval from the city.
Commissioners during their Sept. 22 meeting initially voted 3-2 in favor of the expansion, with one abstention and Vice Chair Marcelle Flowers absent. Although the motion appeared to have a majority, the city’s attorney, Ryan Jones, clarified during the meeting that the motion could not pass unless four out of seven commissioners voted in favor — despite abstentions and absences.
Disagreement stemmed from the project’s planned removal of five protected oak trees, which total 186 diameters combined. One resident spoke during a public hearing and said he strongly objected to the removal of the trees which he said he can view from the back of his property.
Commissioners Janelle Ingle and Michael Nishimura expressed concern about the tree removal aspect and also asked for clarification on the city’s protected tree ordinance, which has criteria for replacement of protected trees when removed. There was also some discussion about whether an arborist who provided a report was properly licensed at the time.
A senior staff member during the meeting suggested the commission continue the item until Oct. 13 to allow city staff to prepare and provide a more thorough explanation of the city’s tree ordinance. A subsequent motion to continue was approved unanimously, while the commission also opted to approve two related motions for a use permit and necessary environmental determination for the project.
Any interested party has the right to appeal the commission’s decision to be heard by the City Council, if the appeal is made within 10 calendar days of the decision. To see plans for the project, click here to view the agenda packet.
Editor’s note: Full plans for the cemetery and additional information on the city’s tree ordinance will be included in a followup story.
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