Trees vs. property rights: Seattle City Council to ponder
Even as two Seattle City Council members declared support Thursday for putting groves of trees off-limits to developers, others in Seattle...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Even as two Seattle City Council members declared support Thursday for putting groves of trees off-limits to developers, others in Seattle spoke up in support of property rights.
Council President Richard Conlin and Councilmember Sally Clark proposed a resolution that asks the Department of Planning and Development to extend tree protection to groups of trees. The department's current rules focus on protecting individual trees of "exceptional" size.
Conlin said the resolution was in response to community concerns about the fate of groves of evergreens near the Maple Leaf reservoir and Ingraham High School that could be partially cut down to make room for development.
"We are dubious what we are proposing now would affect those projects, but what we're hoping to do is prevent similar problems in the future," Conlin said.
Property owners are raising their voices in protest. Some say the rush to save trees is shortsighted. They cite a need to combat urban sprawl and raise tax revenue to support public services, such as roads and public safety.
Others say it's nobody's business. "People in the community have become blind to the fact that it's private property and always has been," says Jackie Peterson, director of marketing for Camp Fire USA of Central Puget Sound, which owns the 1.6-acre tract in Maple Leaf where 39 town houses are planned.
The developer, Prescott Development, has a deal to buy the site from Camp Fire. It has chosen a less dense design than current zoning allows, and would save half the grove of 66 trees.
That's not enough for the neighborhood, which says the developer should redesign the project to save the entire grove.
Less than one-fifth of Seattle's land is covered by tree canopy, "too low by national standards," according to a report assembled by city departments last year.
The tree canopy is shrinking in large part because of the city's desire to become denser rather than to sprawl.
The council will discuss the resolution by Conlin and Clark in a committee at 2 p.m. on June 24 and could vote on it on June 30.
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or email@example.com
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