SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane has revealed close to a hundred trees ranging from small to large, were removed by a contractor working near The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course earlier this week.
The tree removal has sparked outrage among neighbors, hikers and city officials.
However, an attorney for Adam Swedberg, the contractor on the project, said his client did nothing wrong and has the permit and permission to remove the trees.
"The contractor does not have any fault in this entire process," said Bob Dunn, Attorney for the contractor.
About a year ago, First Tee of The Inland Northwest contacted Swedberg about removing trees on a six acre site near Qualchan Golf Course. First Tee plans to build a junior golf course for kids.
The property is owned by the City of Spokane. To gain access to the future site of the junior green, the contractor needed to use and improve a road on a nearby Avista easement corridor.
"He got permission from Avista to go on the right away, that they pointed out was the route he needed to take to get into the project," said Bob Dunn.
"He got a permit from the city, he assumed the permit was coordinated by everyone internally in the city to allow him to do what he was doing. They knew he was going to building a road to get the trees out on their project," said Dunn.
Leroy Eadie, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Spokane, said they only issued one urban forestery permit to First Tee, which would have allowed the removal of trees on the six acres, where the proposed golf course would go, not along the corridor.
"There are other permits that would be required, grading permits and all those things and permissions from the park board in agreement that hadn't been granted," said Leroy Eadie, Director of Parks and Rec.
"And First Tee had been told very clearly you are to not start any work on your three hole golf course until all those agreements have been approved and all permits are issues and they didn't have those in place or started any of that work," said Eadie.
Bob Dunn said his client has the paper trail and permit to prove he worked within the scope of his contract.
"Once the city realized that maybe they didn't handle this in the best public relations manner they needed somebody to throw under the bus. And before you know it you have people from the city saying they are going to get to the bottom of it and whoever was responsible for the trees being taken down were going to pay for it well, all they had to do was look about two offices down in their own shop to figure out it was a city driven project and there was full authority by all the departments necessary to allow this project to go forward," said Dunn.
Eadie said there were no permits to build a road or remove trees along the one mile corridor.
"I think there were a lot of assumptions made by this contractor that he was on an Avista easement and everything was good to go and those were a lot of assumptions he made on his part that were not accurate and he had no permits in hand," said Eadie.
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