Redwood trees removed for new five-home subdivision

J. Jacob Edel
Mercer Island Reporter

Efforts to save two large redwood trees on the Island at a proposed subdivision of a 1.15-acre lot on the North end were in vain despite efforts of the developer and city arborist to preserve them.

Last month, the Planning Commission issued its final recommendation for approval of a subdivision in the 8200 block of S.E. 30th Street on the hillside east of Island Crest Way. Five homes are planned. The single home originally on the lot was used by the Mercer Island Fire Department for a practice fire, then demolished.

Commissioners said they were disappointed that the two redwoods were cut down and asked for explanations from the city arborist, Kathy Parker. Utility installations would damage the roots if they stayed, and the city would be liable should the timbers fall in the future, she said.

“We did not allow this lightly,” Parker told the Commissioners. “DSG’s policy is that we have to enable construction on private property and, in cases like these, the trees usually lose.”

The lot had six redwood trees planted by the previous owner. When the notice of the development became public, neighbors expressed concerns over losing them.

The developer, Island resident Randy Koehler, was able to save three other smaller trees. Eighteen trees were removed for the development.

Commissioner Doug Rigby said that he was concerned during preliminary approval; the Commissioners were assured that the trees would be saved.

“Those were two big specimen trees, and we made a point that those were two distinct trees to save, if at all possible,” Rigby said. “It’s disappointing.

The Commission voted 4-0 in the approval. Two were absent and one member excused herself because she is the project engineer.

The final approval, as required by city code for any subdivision with five or more lots, was later granted by the City Council on Jan. 22.

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