Tempers flare over Talus tree removal
April 29, 2014
By Peter Clark
The city of Issaquah stopped the removal of Talus neighborhood trees April 27 after residents cried foul.
Work began in the beginning of April to take out some tall trees blocking the view of residents. While the Talus Residential Association remains confident it took all necessary steps to remove the trees, some homeowners remain unconvinced.
“People have been pretty adamant about clearing those trees to have a better view of the lake,” said Talus resident Chad Fletcher said, who is angry about the removal. “Those particular trees were there and always were there.”
Sandi MacCalla, vice president of large scale communities with The Management Trust CDC, represents the Talus Residential Association and works to manage the property. She said they had taken a long, correct and public process to provide views to residents who paid for them.
“We’ve been working on this for seven months,” MacCalla said. “There are people taxed for a view and there are people not getting it.”
The city approved the removal of 18 trees to be replaced with vine maples, flowering crab apple and flowering cherry trees. MacCalla said no evergreen trees would be taken down and that the management group was committed to replacing lost trees to preserve a green Cougar Mountain.
“We feel badly that all that work has gotten misunderstood,” MacCalla said about residents’ concerns. “We are just trying to make the best choice for all considerations possible.”
However, after residents claimed Northwest Landscape Services marked more trees than approved for removal, the city filed a cease work order to stop all tree cutting April 27.
“We heard it from a lot of residents that a lot more than 18 trees were marked,” City Communications Manager Autumn Monahan said. “We went up there and it was definitely more than 18.”
The city has had an ongoing role in the management group’s decision to cut down the trees.
“We were aware of it,” City Project Oversight Manager Christopher Wright said. “The Talus Residential Association was working with us.”
He said the decision to cut down the trees came from within the Talus Residential Association. The neighborhood is exempt from the tree protection ordinance that blankets the rest of the city, but Issaquah still had to approve the action.
“There was a plan and we were made aware of it,” Wright said. “They volunteered to replace them with three for every one they cut down. We’re certainly not paying for it.”
Despite assurances from the residential association and the city that all actions were made appropriately, residents like Fletcher still believe the tree removal is an affront to the environment in which they wish to live.
“There’s a number of reasons,” Fletcher said about wanting to preserve the trees and retain the green space. “They act as a natural buffer. It really is a privacy issue.”
He said he was not alone in wanted to preserve the mountainside’s lush character.
“I’ve got neighbors up and down who are all up in arms about this,” Fletcher said. Monahan said no timeline currently exists for the city’s review of the plan, but The Management Trust was trying to set up a town hall meeting for later this week. Get updates on the meeting at www.issaquahpress.com and @issaquahpress on Twitter.