A three-year battle over a tall tree ended Monday, as Art and Susan Wright’s massive red cedar was being trimmed to roof height in the gray and drizzly morning.
A neighbor in the Innis Arden community in Shoreline had complained that the almost four-story tree was blocking her view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The neighborhood association agreed, deciding the tree’s height violated bylaws stating that nothing should obstruct any resident’s view of the surrounding area.
The Wrights appealed to the city, which found that the tree was part of a wetland and should be preserved to help prevent erosion. In December, however, the city decided erosion could be prevented just as well by planting 13 younger trees and shrubs. With that decision, the Wrights conceded, and agreed to cut back all but the bottom third of the tree.
That work began this morning and was expected to take several hours.
Between fees, fines and landscaping, the tree may end up costing the Wrights more than $70,000. Part of that total has been to hire a lawyer and an arbiter, and to cover the costs of topping the big tree and replacing it with younger trees.
But a bigger part is from $50-per-day fines the neighborhood association has imposed against the Wrights since October 2009, throughout the arbitration process and during the time it took the Wrights to get the proper permits. The family deliberately delayed the process, the association has claimed.
The Wrights are fighting those fines.
“I’m not going to pay anything,” Art Wright said. “I would say that I have followed all the procedures the city set out.”