Controversy over tree removal in Maple Valley has caused worry over land use and the amount of greenery the city is losing.
Many people have signed a petition titled “Prevention of continual removal of trees in the Maple Valley Area.” This petition, as of June 3, has 966 signatures out of the 1,000 goal. The petition is located on the petition creation website, change.org, and was shared by many of the signers on Twitter and Facebook.
The petition was created by someone named “Jay Houston,” who states in the petition description, “We demand Mayor Sean P. Kelly stop the continual destruction of forests in the Maple Valley area.”
The Reporter was unable to contact Houston by press time.
Kelly said the city of Maple Valley doesn’t have a “tree removal” problem.
He explained the reason it seems like the city is removing a lot of trees is because there is currently a project going on that involves the removal of trees and is in a very public space where everyone can see it.
On State Route 169, on the corner of 240th Street, trees are being removed to make way for a 24,000 square foot University of Washington medical Facility and a Starbucks, according to Community Development Manager Matt Torpey.
Kelly said that project is out of the city’s hands as they have to comply with the state-regulated Growth Management Act (GMA).
According to MRSC.org, The GMA in Washington is a series of statutes that requires fast-growing cities like Maple Valley to develop a comprehensive plan to manage their growth.
This means local governments must manage Washington’s growth by identifying and protecting critical areas of the city, while designating urban growth areas.
“We’re trying really hard to keep certain areas open space, but there are certain areas that the Growth Management Act demands that we have to do stuff and if we don’t the state will sue us again and we’ll lose,” Kelly explained.
Kelly said the city council is big on keeping open spaces in Maple Valley.
For example, he said the city purchased the Lake Wilderness Golf Course to keep it an open space. And then he also said Lake Wilderness is 113 acres of open space and natural land, along with the Legacy Site, which is 54 acres.
While what is going to be done with the Legacy Site is still up in the air, Kelly said it won’t turn into residential space or anything similar.
The city also recently purchased the Elk Run Farm, which according to Kelly, the city won’t create any new developments on that 64 acres of land.
Torpey said there is also a design review approval for building apartments in the same area as the proposed medical facility.
As of right now, there are no permits for the apartments though.
The timeline for this project is “kind of up in the air,” according to Torpey.