Legal Question in Environmental Law in Washington

Cut Tress on HOE property

My husband cut 6 trees down on a piece of property owned by our home owners association. The property sits next to a County Trail system and a lake. The HOA pressed charges, and dropped them with our apologizes.

We now are being sued by the Cities Lake Preservation society for tree removal and cleanup. Even though the property is our homeowners, it sits on what the term ‘Critical Slope CS”. This was a law passed in September 2006 by our city. Our HOE didn’t know about the law and we can’t find any local publications that alerted the residents of the new law. The law states that CS must be permanently marked with steel stakes. The property is not marked in anyway. We feel like we are being made an ‘example’ of by a really hot headed PUD employee.

Ironically, the County came in today and cut 7 trees adjacent to the area we cut. They were on CS…they had no survey done and no permits. All of which the city asked of us.

Any advice would be great.

Thank you,

Asked on 3/21/07, 4:08 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Matthew King Wershow & Ritter, Inc. P.S.

Re: Cut Tress on HOE property

You likely have a defense based on the unconstitutional retroactive application of a law. The Washington Constitution allows some laws to be enforced on events occurring before the law was enacted. However, most laws do not apply retroactively. Further, its possible that the Society does not have any standing to bring the claim since they may not have any interest in the property destroyed.

I would welcome an opportunity to assist you in this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Answered on 3/21/07, 4:49 pm

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