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Former Mayor Joins Residents in Appealing Group Health Plan

A land-use petition was filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court.

Former Redmond Mayor Rosemarie Ives has joined Sustainable Redmond and two other community groups in filing a land-use petition in King County Superior Court that seeks to prevent the removal of more than 1,000 trees from the site of a planned development.

The petition (PDF attached to this story) comes after representatives from Sustainable Redmond and other residents attended several Redmond City Council meetings to voice their disapproval of the tree removal plans associated with a 28-acre mixed-use development on vacant property that is located in the Overlake neighborhood at 2464 152nd Ave. NE and owned by Group Health Cooperative.

On Dec. 13, the city council voted 6-1, with council member Kim Allen dissenting, to  that includes an exception to a section of the city's zoning code requiring developers to retain 35 percent of existing significant trees. The approved plan calls for the removal of 100 percent of the property's trees, including 1,050 "significant" trees (defined by the city as having a diameter of 6 inches or more at a height of 4½ feet above the ground).

The land-use petition argues the city is going against its own zoning codes and regulations in allowing a complete tree removal to take place. Although criteria for exception to the tree-removal ordinance exist in the zoning code, the petition argues the threshold for exception has not been met. 

"The city's decision that the request satisfied the criteria is an erroneous interpretation of the law and a clearly erroneous application of the law to the facts not supported by substantial evidence," the petition states.

The petition also argues the project does not comply with the State Environmental Policy Act because the environment impacts of the tree removal were not addressed.

Group Health representatives had argued that complete tree removal is necessary because tearing up existing pavement would compromise their structural integrity, while the removal of surrounding trees would make the ones that remain vulnerable to wind storms.

City attorney James Haney said Thursday morning that he has not yet had a chance to review the petition with city officials.

"However, I can say that the city is confident that the council's decision was supported by the evidence presented to them and met the requirements of the city's plans and ordinances," he wrote in an email to Redmond Patch.

A case schedule included in the filed petition indicates the matter will go before a judge on June 25.

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Editor's note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. to include an email comment from city attorney James Haney.

Bob Martinek January 26, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Come on! City should buy it and make it a park. Otherwise, look around it! Stop inhibiting growth in an area that is notorious for growth. I have lived here for 63 years and watched EVERYTHING change. Education hill was all forested, I never heard of any complaints when Redmond High School and Redmond Jr. High did wholesale clearing. Microsoft would not exist. The genie was let out of the bottle a long long time ago.
Catherine Wittel January 27, 2012 at 04:18 PM
The council moved very quickly to pass this "variance." Too quickly. And there were no alternatives or modified plans offered. I think a little more thoughtful planning needs to go into this.

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