Newspaper Archive of
Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island, Washington
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June 10, 1998     Mercer Island Reporter
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June 10, 1998
 

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A2 Mercer Island Reporter Council studies land clearing rules; some changes likely By Jeff Gove Mercer Island Reporter he City of Mercer Island may soon be changing the way it regulates tree removal on pri» vate property. At a study session last month. the City Council discussed the scope of the city‘s current land clearing code and whether it should be expanded or not. The council made no decisions but it did instruct city staff to provide it with more detailed information over the next few months in preparation for possible changes. Regulating tree clearing on private property is a sticky issue for the coun« cil because of competing priorities in the community. Ask an Island resident and they‘re likely to have a strong opinion on trees. Some feel regulating land clear» ing is a violation of their property rights. Others think the city has a re- sponsibility to maintain the Island’s wrxrdland character and feel the cur rent ordinance should be tougher on property owners. The council may also have a re» sponsibility to regulate tree cutting in the interests of public safety and en~ vitonmental protection. Trees and their root systems tend to limit erosion. which can lead to water pollution. landslides and the possi» bility of major property damage. Since some species of salmon will soon be added to the endangered species list. guarding against polluting Lake Washington will be increasingly im~ portant in the near future. Under current law. adopted in 1972. homeowners on the Island can do vir' tually anything they want on their pmpetty. from topping trees to clear cut~ ting - once the lot is developed. Before development. the property owner must submit a site plan show- ing which trees will be removed for the building. pad. utility lines or other necessities. All other trees on the lot must remain standing during the per— mit period unless an arborist deter' mines that they are diseased or haz» ardous. This portion of the code was designed to limit clear cutting of large areas of land for development. The land clearing ordinance does not currently address pollution and habitat destruction. The State Environmental Protection Act regulates projects on sites with more than five lots, but most of the Island’s build— able sites are small enough to be ex- empt from those rules. Currently the Island has an esti~ mated boo undeveloped lots and many ofthose are on steep slopes. making them particularly sensitive to land clearing. MOST OF THE COUNCIL members scented wary about pro« tecting trees on private property pure“ Iy based on aesthetic value. But they also saw a need for regulating cutting in sensitive areas to protect adjacent property owners and the environment. “From the standpoint of erosion. Mercer Island Chiropractch Don’t let unnecessary pain ruin your plans. Gentle. Effective Care FerAtl Ages a». mum Wow-am 2326653 2448 - 75m Ave. SE. Suite 1%, Maw Mind {by Dnnny’n) , Exact-aim rm” .‘Krt's ‘Rabhu «SW g‘lmre 15.11Mqu ‘Ft’rst ’Editt’on (Homes fins just cleared tile lot at 751x .5“): 40:“ 5t. and it is a beauty! .‘rllmas! level irritliSoutli ‘lf’est exposure. this lot til/'81:» more t/imi L‘Olll't’lllt‘llt‘t’. ‘llfk' [tome under construction {iris an a'r'nfloor plan wit/i great ‘Roam t‘ortcepl., lrlryc ‘Dtninfiq area, and top Qflfll’ line Allelic/1..” Ilsa an tie Alain "floor is the Jifnster Suite It’ll/l his and liers tititllt—tn closets and a small itit’itt rlerfi. "The lower level is tlcst’gncdjbr [lie rest aftfir family It’ll/l two bedrooms, in? room and large office. “Nit: flame is‘qoirrr} to be a real gem! ’1')on ‘I miss out on till.» It’t’llebtlill *Tirsl lit/[lion (Home! ‘ KRIS AND JANE ARE THE EXPERTS 52206) 230-5500 Wméar toyafway: cafl'Kn's anJJanefof I «ML/1r "Sim meaty regulate tree-cutting? Courtesy of Walker and Associut These aerial photos of Mercer Island show the effects of development on the amount of tree coverage from 1953, at left, to 1997, at right. there shouldn’t be a distinction be~ tween public and private land.“ said council member Bryan Cairns. Council member Peter Orscr agreed. stating that the city should consider regulating situations where neighbors start with new guidelines for protect— ing trees on public land first, then tackle the tougher issue of private property later. The council eventual- ly backed that approach. The council also identified four separate types of land which will re- quire different regulations: public land. public right of ways. undeveloped pri- vate property and lots undergoing re- development. They instructed city stafro look at each of these categories Under current law, adopted in 1972, homeowners can do virtually anything they want on their property, from topping trees to clear cutting — once the lot is developed. ~ separately. Staff members have been working ‘ on potential options for protecting trees on public land for the past month but no definitive course of action has emerged yet. said Kris Schenk. city director of development services. He stated that his team will provide the council with several different choic— es but that presentation hasn’t been sched— uled yet. How the council acts on public lands will guide the staff’s work on draft— ing changes for private property. he said. O Wednesday, June I 0, I998 Beauvoir: P11 ~er ty owners are not prohibitedyfrt) cutting trees unless the lot. isy‘in a protected area, like a» steep slope, or a native growth protection area. The city does, however, require a permit to remove three or more trees at one time. KIRKLAND: Kirkland aims to slow rather than stop tree re«’ moval. Property owners can re— move up to five trees per year; more than five requires a recom- mendation from a certified ar~ borist. MEDINA: No ordinance cov- ering trees on private land. REDMOND: All trees in Redmond that, are slit inches in- diameter or greater at chest . height are protected under the city ’5 land clearing code. Private property owners need a permit to remove any such trees and a separate grading permit is required if ten or more trees , will be cut down. Mercer R - Island Published by King County Journal Newspapers 7845 SE 30th Street 0 ED. Box 38 0 Mercer Island, WA O 98040 Phone: (206) 232-1215 0 Fax: (206) 232-1284 01mm: Monday-Friday. 8am - Spin The Mercer Island Reporter (USPS 339020) is published weekly every Wednesday. Second— class postage paid at Mercer Island. WA. Subscription rates by junior dealers and motor Subscribe: C all 425-453‘4240 Monday through Friday from harm to 5pm. A 3-month subscription is ‘9. a (rmonth subscription is ‘lll. and a full year subscription is ‘36. Delivery Billing: Call 4254534240 Monday Friday front 8am to 5pm for delivery or billing concerns. Advertise: Classified Marketplace: 425-455-2525 routes. ‘3 per month: do per year: by mail in King County. ‘36 per year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mercer Island Reporter. Pl). Box 38. Mercer Island. WA 98040. Associate Editor: Linda Morgan. le6~232-1215 Circulation Manager: Neal Crawford. 206-239: I 2 [5 Advertising Account Executive: Aidan Maher. 206232435 News Staff: Nora Doyle. Ethan Fowler. Jeff Gove. DeAnn Rossetti Photographer: Malt Brasltears lili‘lft‘lm or habitat could be adversely affected by land clearing. He added that. based on his own experience working for a development company, enforcement of regulations alter permits are issued is crucial because the potential for long term damage is greatest during con struction. The rest of the council agreed that sensitive areas should be regulated but they had a hard time visualizing ex‘ actly how that goal would be carried out. Both Cairns and council member Alan Merkle suggested that the city Office Manager: Joan Allen Newsroom: The Mercer Island Reporter welcomes ideas for lo- cal stories. Call the newsroom at 2(l6-232-12I5. Deadlines for calendar items. general new and most sports is 5pm Fridays. Deadline for Letters to, the Editor is noon Mondays. Or you can e-mtiil us at mirepnr@lmrvitz.com Deadline is 3pm on Mondays. Retail Advertising: 206232— I 2 I 5 Deadline is 5pm on Fridays; for ads requiring proofs. deadline is noon on Fridays. Personnel: President: Peter A. HorvitI..425- 4534mm Messages 24 Hrs: 425—450- I 2 I 7 pt’l‘l‘lillul‘l'lIZQ hunt/rum:t/mpr'rsner Publisher, Vice President/New Media: : Catherine Shem-425453.271} Mercer Island Reporter is an equal Editor General Manager: (’PIwnunl‘y empll’l’efi 0mm“ L! 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