The Kirkland-based developer that has set out to redevelop office buildings in the Woodland Square Loop area of Lacey did not have the appropriate permits in place before a number of trees, including some towering Douglas firs, were cut down.
Once the city of Lacey learned what was happening — people who work in the area contacted the city — the work was stopped July 21, Sarah Schelling, an associate planner with the city, said Monday.
Still, city officials, like many in the area, were surprised by what had happened to all those trees.
“They understand their error and they are working with us to make this right,” Schelling said.
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MJR Development of Kirkland partner Mark Lahaie said Monday that it was a misunderstanding between them and the city.
He said MJR had a tenant improvement permit in hand, which included a tree removal plan, and they proceeded based on that information.
“This was all above board,” he said. “We headed out and started the work and then after the fact we learned that the city needed a higher level of application.”
“We’re happy to rectify the situation and follow all of their processes,” Lahaie said. “That was our intent to begin with.”
Schelling countered that MJR submitted a tenant improvement plan and a landscaping plan, but then that landscaping plan was amended but not resubmitted to the city, she said.
MJR Development has since filed a land-clearing and Class 4 forest practices application for selected removal of 14,400 board feet of timber on a 5.84-acre developed parcel at 676 Woodland Square Loop SE, according to a legal notice published in The Olympian.
“A portion of the timber has been removed; this will be an after-the-fact permit,” according to the legal notice.
Schelling said the remaining trees to be removed are in a parking lot, but no additional firs or evergreens are going to be removed, unless removal is recommended by a city forester.
The work doesn’t stop there: MJR also will have to submit a mitigation plan to the city, based on a damage assessment by a city forester, and submit a replanting plan, which will include native tree species.
MJR officials said last week that they plan to invest $1 million into landscaping for both a four-building area called Woodland Center and another office building called Woodland Plaza. MJR owns several mostly vacant office buildings in the area and has set out to revitalize them to entice new tenants to the area.
MJR officials also have worked closely with the city on its Woodland District strategic plan, a blueprint for turning the area between the Chehalis-Western Trail, Interstate 5, Pacific Avenue and College Street into a mixed-use destination, similar to a downtown.
“I believe they are committed to working with us to remedy the error in removing the trees without the proper permits,” Schelling said.
Anyone wishing to comment on the land-clearing and Class 4 forest practices application has until 5 p.m. Aug. 13. Contact Sarah Schelling at Lacey Community Development Department, 420 College St. SE Lacey, WA 98503, or at 360-491-5642.