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City files lawsuits over 153 trees illegally cut down in West Seattle

The city filed two lawsuits on Tuesday and is seeking $1.6 million in damages and fines

Back in March, 153 trees in an environmentally critical area called the West Duwamish Greenbelt were cut down without permission. If there's one thing you don't do in Seattle, it's mess with our trees (Just ask #ManInTree).

Now, the city is bringing down it's legal might to make those who illegally ordered the cutdown, as well as those who did the cutting, will pay for it. The city filed two lawsuits on Tuesday even as police continue to investigate exactly what happened.

To make up for the trees that were cut down near the 3200 block of 35th Avenue Southwest, Seattle is seeking $1.6 million in damages and fines. City attorney Pete Holmes also said that the city has retained an arborist "to assess the damage and to come up with a restoration plan."

"No one has yet come forward to give the city the full story of what happened despite SPD’s (Seattle Police Department's) best efforts and extensive investigation." Holmes said in a statement. "However, we are satisfied that we now know enough to proceed with civil lawsuits. We expect to learn that additional people, beyond those named in the lawsuits, were involved with the cutting as the suits progress. Between the lawsuits, the city seeks over $1.6 million in damages and fines. The city seeks relief on several grounds, including timber trespass, damage to land, trespass, negligence, environmentally critical areas violations, violations of the parks code and violations of the city’s tree and vegetation management in public places code."

According to one lawsuit, Stanley J. and Mary E. Harrelson as well as Martin E. and Karrie Riemer are said to have hired Forrest F. Bishop and John Russo to cut down the trees. In the other lawsuit, Kostas A. and Linda C. Kyrimis and other homeowners are accused of hiring people to cut trees. How the two lawsuits fit together in terms of the truth isn't entirely clear but that's why we're bloggers and not lawyers.

· City sues over 150 trees cut down in West Seattle [KOMO]
· Who Cut Down 153 Critical West Seattle Trees Without City Permission? [CS]