City of Everett, neighbor sued over lost trees, mudslide

EVERETT —Two brothers who say a landslide on their Mukilteo Boulevard property was caused in part by neighbors who cut down trees for a better view are suing the city of Everett, the neighbors and the tree cutter.

Brothers Chris Chase and Todd Chase, both of Everett, are asking the neighbors and tree cutter for $341,190 to compensate for dozens of trees cut down without permission, at least $75,000 for the lost value of the land plus an unspecified amount for trespass.

The Chases also are asking a judge to hold the city accountable, since they say Everett officials issued permits that allowed uphill neighbors to drain water onto their land.

“This isn’t right from start to finish,” Chris Chase said. “That’s what’s got me fired up.”

The neighbors, Fredric and Holly Anderson, said it was a mistake and plan to commit $100,000 to making things right.

The Chases’ property is 8 acres of undeveloped land at Merrill and Ring creeks that has been owned by their family for three-quarters of a century.

In June, the brothers say the Andersons, who live in a million-dollar home on a ridge above their land, hired someone to cut down as many as 38 trees — some on their property and some on the Chases’ property. With those trees gone, the Andersons have a clear view of Port Gardner.

A few weeks later, the same neighbor’s irrigation pipe ruptured and spilled an estimated 250,000 gallons of water onto the Chases’ land, according to the lawsuit. A house-sized hunk of earth came loose and rumbled down the gully.

It’s not clear if the landslide was caused by the tree cutting, the ruptured pipe or some combination. Who actually wielded the chain saw has never been revealed by the Andersons.

When the mud settled, the Chases found other drainage pipes, also installed without permission, running from their neighbors’ land across their property.

City officials said they’ve done everything they can legally and that includes considering criminal charges against the Anderson. Everett police are investigating.

Chris Chase said he’s angry that the city allowed the Andersons to continue to let water drain onto his land and for approving a retaining wall after the landslide that he believes helps his neighbors but does nothing to restore his property.

The Chases filed a temporary restraining order to stop work on the retaining wall last week, but a court commissioner, fearing the Andersons house might slide down the hill, said Wednesday that work on the wall could continue.

John Dippold, the Andersons’ Seattle attorney, said his clients are perplexed as to why the Chases tried to stop work on a wall that could prevent further damage to their property.

“While the Chase family is busy filing court actions, the Andersons want to fix the problems, but are prevented from doing so,” Dippold said. “My fear is that the Chases’ actions will exacerbate the damage to both properties.”

The Chases’ Everett attorney, Jamie Jensen, said the brothers are now considering another temporary restraining order to stop their neighbors from using their land as a drain field.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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