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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seattle PI Story on Innis Arden Tree Debate AGAIN!

So, the Tree vs Views debate is happening again in Innis Arden. 
The Innis Arden Board and a few of their members, are determined to cut any tree, any time they want, regardless of the impact to others or the environment.  Now they want to cut a significant number of trees in the Bear Reserve. Other neighbors want to preserve them.

Shoreline and citizens have been working on these tree issues for many years.  This is just the latest in the skirmishes.  Many citizens would like to see a comprehensive tree ordinance like Lake Forest Park has passed. Th value of trees is undeniable, but the argument over how to protect them, and whether to work towards a better "urban forest canopy" is still being argued.

Now the Innis Arden Board has taken the city into litigation again over it. The latest hearing with the Hearing Examiner was postponed till August.

The Seattle PI, has a story yesterday laying out some of the issues.

Tree fight: Dispute pits Shoreline versus neighborhood

Updated 09:55 a.m., Monday, June 20, 2011

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Shoreline's prime-view neighborhood, Innis Arden, is fighting over trees again.
It's not surprising that the area, perched on a green slope overlooking Puget Sound, could become as conflicted about its trees as it is defined by them.

Within Innis Arden are 11 different "reserves" of trees set aside when the late William Boeing platted and began developing the area. Today homes seem wrapped in a giant quilt of green in the leafiest of leafy enclaves.

But trees have grown tall, shrouding views, residents want trees cut out of the way and another battle has begun. This time, it's between most of the neighborhood and the City of  Shoreline.

Last year the Innis Arden Club, the group to which neighboring property owners belong, decided it was time to cut 46 tree in the Bear Reserve, a grove of trees off Ridgefield Road filled with evergreens and maples, some towering 60 feet high. Neighborhood homeowners also jointly own the reserves.

The effort began, according to some residents, after half a dozen neighbors complained that the trees were blocking their views of the sound and the Olympic Mountains, a benefit the club has sworn to preserve as part of covenants on members' properties. Last year the club asked the city to allow cutting the trees to re-open views that were being blocked.

"We want to be good stewards of these reserves," said club president Mike Jacobs. "They're important to us."

But the city and some residents think the club is going too far. The city, noting that many of Bear Reserve's trees perch on steep slopes, wants to limit the club's tree-harvesting permit to 16 trees, as a protection against erosion and landslides.

"The 30 trees denied for removal are located on a very high hazard landslide area...or within the 15-foot reduced buffer and cannot be removed," said a city memo. A permit, issued March 7, said cut-down trees are to be taken out by hand, without use of heavy machinery, and that selected timber was to be left on the ground to enrich the soil of the  reserve.

There is also concern for the effects of the cutting on a small stream that courses intermittently through the reserve, though there is some dispute about whether it's a real stream or merely runoff from nearby streets. Club leadership is appealing the  permit.

Bear Reserve, the smallest grove of trees in Innis Arden "has some of the oldest and largest trees," said another resident, John Hushagen, an Innis Arden resident and a member of a group calling itself Friends of the Bear Reserve that agrees with the city's restrictions. "We want to preserve some of the large native trees in that one tiny area of the neighborhood, because we just can't get them back from planting new little  trees."

The issue is headed to a city hearing examiner sometime in late August. There have been lawyers working the issue from all angles, for the city, the club and for Friends of the Bear Reserve.

Alan Kohn, a member of the "friends" group and a biology professor emeritus at the University of Washington, said the mature trees store huge amounts of water during winter and that cutting 46 of them would allow millions more gallons of water to soak into the reserve soil, raising the risk of erosion in an area that has already seen damaging winter washouts.

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