Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Neighbor Comments And LCC's Legal Letter Sent To Talaris Following Violation of City Landmark Ordinance And Settlement Agreement

Following our post about Talaris violating the Landmark Ordinance by cutting down trees last week in the buffer zone behind homes on 42nd Avenue NE and the eastern most side of the Talaris property, we have received several comments from neighbors noted below.

In addition, included in this post is a letter the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) lawyer sent to the legal counsel for Talaris.

Talaris was designated as a historic landmark on November 6th and is subject to protection by City Ordinance, as stated on the City's Landmark and Designation website. 

Since the tree removal work did not received approval from the Landmarks Board or staff, DPD (Department of Planning and Development) was contacted and notified of the violation of the Landmarks Ordinance. DPD immediately went to the site and issued a stop work order (notice in picture above).

Emails received from neighbors
The three cottonwood trees they cut down left a huge hole in the area and completely diminished the privacy of  and actually exposed (visually) one of the homes where that corner coverage had served as a buffer. Does it not require a permit to cut down mature trees in the city (regardless of the landmark status)?  
We are so saddened that Talaris first of all, cut down several beautiful trees serving as a wonderful natural buffer between properties and secondly willingly went agains the City's Landmark Ordinance of not consulting with the Landmark Preservation Board as is now required before doing anything to their property.
It is unfortunate the way Talaris has been acting towards our neighborhood. Fences, signs and cameras, don't build good community relationships.

We were so shocked to come home and see trees we have enjoyed for so many years comletely gone. Those trees of that stature, can not be replaced. How can they just cut them down? Aren't they supposed to check in with the City? And why can't they be neighborly and let neighbors know they are cutting down trees? It is so sad to see how the new owners seem to exist only for themselves, and with the previous owners for 20 years or more they always strived to be a good neighbor. Just the opposite now of Bruce McCaw and his group. 
Talaris has already done so much to distance themselves from and outright anger  their neighbors, those immediate and those living further away - putting up fences, signs, cameras, gates and more. Now they cut down trees? When will this stop and they start to be a good neighbor? Doesn't seem like a very good strategy if they want support for their proposed re-development.

Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator with the City's Department of Neighborhoods (DON), told us that the issue is still under review by our department and the Department of Planning and Development. 

And regarding the tree removal, she said that DPD has their own regulations, in addition to those enforced under the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.  She suggests getting in touch with Bryan Stevens, DPD's Community Relations contact, who can connect neighbors with the appropriate people regarding City Tree protection regulations. 

Here is the letter from LCC's lawyer to the Talaris lawyers:

November 15, 2013
Delivered via Facsimile, Email and Hand Delivery

John C. McCullough
G. Richard Hill
McCullough Hill Leary, PS
700 5th Avenue, Suite 6600
Seattle, WA 98104

RE: Battelle Memorial Institute/Taiaris

Dear Mr. McCullough and Mr. Hill,

This letter on behalf of the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) concerns the Settlement Agreement in effect for the Battelle/Talaris site and is directed to you as counsel for the current owner ofthe site. As a professional courtesy, We have not directed this letter to persons who may be the Owner’s non-attorney representatives, out request that you either immediately forward this letter to them or immediately inform me that you have no objection to my doing so.

The purpose of this letter is to give notice of Several violations of the 1991 Settlement Agreement, which is binding on your  as successor to Battelle. These include the following:
l. Vioìatíons of Agreement Section 12 by failures to provide required notice, review opportunity, and site access with regard to, inter  the application to the City (for which a large sign was recentiy posted) and the construction of fencing on
the site.
2. Violations of Agreement Section 7 including tree removal (including recent removal for which the City has apparently issued a Stop Work Order) and construction of fencing.
3. Vioìations of Section 4.1 due to construction of fencing on the site.

As repeatedly conveyed in conversations with you, LCC would very much like to establish a dialogue with the Owner. Violations of the Settlememt Agreement don't help in getting that going, but LCC is nonetheless still interested in a dialogue.

I look forward to hearing from you on the dialogue that LCC has repeatedly requested. Meanwhiìe, LCC reserves all rights with regard to Settlement Agreement violations.

And here is information a neighbor sent on how to file a complaint with the City regarding the recent tree removal:
1. Call the Violation Complaint Line at (206) 615-0808 for time-sensitive complaints
2. Use the online Code Violation Complaint Form for complaints that are not time-sensitive
3. Visit in person at 700 Fifth Ave, 19th floor M,Tu, Thu, F: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and W: 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
4. Send a letter to:
Department of Planning and Development
Code Compliance
700 Fifth Ave., Suite 2000
P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

To track or follow up on the investigation and findings of a complaint with the address of the property or case number, call the complaint line at (206) 615-0808 or email the DPD inspector assigned to the case.

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