While chainsaws are certainly busy around the city during this break between tree-toppling storms, some tree-cutting in West Seattle this morning had nothing to do with the weather. We learned about it via this video tweet:
— NLB (@g7on) November 15, 2015
Twitter user @n7gon noticed the tree-cutting on the site of the proposed mixed-use project at 4532 42nd SW and asked us about it. You might recall our report about the latest Southwest Design Review Board meeting related to that site – at which board members told the development team to design the project around one particular tree, though the owner-developers had received an opinion that the tree fell short of being what the city considered “exceptional.” They said keeping the tree would present challenges including fewer units and fewer offstreet-parking spaces. They also said that the tree would likely die when the site north of theirs is redeveloped, a site under different ownership, currently holding a single-family house but zoned, as is most of that area, for something much bigger.
Now the tree’s gone (along with others on the site). Nothing in the project’s online files indicated tree-cutting was imminent, so after hearing about it, we went over to see if anyone was still there.
We didn’t find anyone on site, so we e-mailed the property’s owner/developer, West Seattleite Mark Braseth, to ask for comment. He replied with this:
To whom it may concern,
The City of Seattle only regulates exceptional trees on private property over 30 inches in diameter, and limits tree removal on commercially-zoned, privately-owned sites to no more than three trees larger than six inches in diameter within a single year. The City determined that all trees on site were non-exceptional (under 30 inches in diameter), and therefore the three trees taken were allowed to be removed without a permit. The City requires that any new development replace the previously-existing tree canopy with the same or equal amount of tree canopy cover, upon the new trees’ maturity.
As a family development company with long-term roots in the West Seattle community, we are excited to develop this property into something that we can own and be proud of for a long time. We understand that trees are important to the community, and they are important to our project design. We are working with our architects and landscape architect to design a building that includes mature landscaping and large trees that the public can enjoy for the long term future.
The city’s tree policy is here.
Back in 2009, under different ownership, the site was approved for a different development that stalled. Braseth bought it earlier this year and brought forth a different proposal which as of last week’s meeting was penciled in as 6-stories, ~75 apartments, 3,813 sq.ft. of commercial space, and offstreet parking for ~63 vehicles (though the site is in a “frequent transit” zone with no requirement for any offstreet parking). One structure on the site was demolished in 2008; the one that remains will be torn down for this project.