Seattle changing tree rules to make city greener

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 4 at 11:58 AM

SEATTLE - The focus is on developers and giving homeowners more flexibility. The goal is to increase Seattle's tree canopy.

"As a homeowner, it's your right to alter your landscape," said homeowner Sarah MacKay.

The city agrees. The proposed new rules will allow homeowners to chop down a tree without a permit.

But the new regulations will be tougher on developers. In single family zones, developers will have to earn "tree credits" by planting trees or keeping existing trees. If a developer doesn't have enough credits, they may not get a building permit.

"If they make it impossible for a developer to get those points, then it just creates another impassable hurdle in a development project," said Ed Hewson, Roosevelt Development Group.

The developers association says a city that promotes urban density, but wants to save trees, presents a conflict. The fear is the new rules could become a burden.

Seattle's tree coverage is improving. In 2003, Seattle tree coverage was 22.5 percent. By 2007, it grew to 23 percent. The city's goal is to reach 30 percent in the next three decades.

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