(June WSB photo)
Four months ago, we reported on an Admiral neighborhood’s hopes of saving a huge Ponderosa Pine tree that is on a site where its new owner wants to build a house.
Getting a land-use permit for the proposal at 3036 39th SW [map] was dependent on getting a “special exception” from the city, allowing a house on a lot smaller than 3,200 square feet..
Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin includes this notice of the city’s decision to grant the exception.
You can read the full decision here; it doesn’t address the tree, except to say “The site includes an Exceptional Tree as defined in SMC 25.11. Removal of the tree has been identified in building permit application 6513178. Removal of the tree will be reviewed under the building permit application.” The decision does refer back to a letter the city issued to the owner early this year, with a preliminary version of the decision finalized here, saying “The City has determined that the property qualifies as a
separate legal building site under exceptions to the minimum lot area requirement set forth in SMC 23.44.010.B.1 (opinion letter dated January 5, 2016).”
At the time of our June report, the parcel’s owner Cliff Low told WSB, “We are building an undersized 2-story home. The tree will need to be removed in that a home could not be built there without removing it.” An arborist’s report puts the tree’s trunk diameter at three and a half feet, well past what the city defines as “exceptional.”
Today’s decision is appealable, with a deadline of October 20th. Neighbors anticipating the decision have been crowdfunding to challenge it, saying city rules will require them to spend at least $3,000. They had obtained this opinion from a law firm contending that the city’s interpretation erred and was based on something a prior site owner had done 86 years ago.
Again, this is not the final word on the tree’s fate, pending a potential appeal, and the building-permit decision. Online files (see the “documents” tab) show the case already has drawn almost 100 public comments; it first came to our attention via this post in the WSB Forums.