Monday, January 27, 2014

Talaris Submits Retroactive Certificate Of Approval After Code Violation In Removal Of Trees, Landmark Preservation Meeting Friday To Hear Public Testimony

DPD's Stop Work Order posted Talaris' violation in removing trees

On November 14th of last year, several neighbors were shocked to see eight big trees being cut down, including three big cottonwood trees  in the buffer providing privacy behind homes on 42nd Avenue NE and the eastern most side of the Talaris property. 

The Talaris owner, Bruce Mc Caw under the name 4000 Property LLC, violated the Landmarks Ordinance, as a Certicate of Approval was not submitted to the City's Landmarks Preservation Board for review, as was required starting September 20th, when the site was nominated for historic designation.

And only a week before the tree removal, Talaris was designated as a historic landmark subject to protection by City Ordinance, as stated on the City's Landmark and Designation website.  

Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator, said that on September 20th, after the Battelle / Talaris property was nominated, the Landmarks Preservation Board, "issued a report that informed the property owner that they were required to have approval from the Landmarks Board before making alterations or significant changes to specified features proposed for preservation. The areas of control for this property include the site and the exteriors of the building."

Very recently, the Talaris owner represtatives submitted a retroactive Certificate of Approval to the Landmarks Preservation Board noting that the trees were "removed for life and safety reasons." The trees that were removed were Red Alder, Green Ash, Black Cottonwood and Western Hemlock.

A consulting arborist, Combined Cutting Contractors from Maple Valley, submitted a report along with the Certificate, saying that "all the subject trees were unhealthy and posted a risk to property and pedestrians" and that "there were "additional risk issues" of other trees that stil need to be addressed.

On Friday at 9:10am, at the City's Landmarks Preservation Board Architectural Review Committee will discuss the pending retroactive Certificate of Approval in a public meeting at Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor, Room 4070).

Public testimony will be accepted during the meeting and the community can also submit comments prior to the meeting to the Historic Preservation Program, Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave, Suite 1700, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle, Washington 98124-4649.

The Laurelhurst Community Club told us:

Talaris has requested a retroactive certificate of approval for the tree cutting, months after they cut the trees, though they knew when they were cutting down the trees that they were required to get the Certificate to remove the trees. 
They knew this when the property was nominated on September  20th, but they chose not to follow the rules. 

Had DPD (Department of Planning and Development) not issued the stop work order, after being notified of the violation by Erin, shortly after visiting the property to confirm the observations, who knows what other trees they would have cut down?
Even if the trees were dead or diseased, the Certificate of Approval was still required, and they knew it.

LCC added that after review by the Board’s Architectural Review Committee the issue will likely go to the Landmarks Board on February 5th.

Neighbor wrote to the Blog Staff at the time of the tree removal saying:
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.
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. 

And recently we received these emails:
Talaris clearly does not, or maybe event want to, follow the City Landmarkcode policies and procedures They were notified in September and still removed the trees and now they are trying to submit a retroactive approval to the City. What will come next? And we have to live through a massive re-development probably with many more code violations of which they will know about before they do it. How neighborly and ethicial is that?
It is unfortunate the way Talaris has been acting towards our neighborhood. Violating City ordiances, fences, signs and cameras, don't build good community relationships.

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. Several neighbors have commented to us about this "backpedaling" as one neighbor referred to the Talaris owners.


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