Condo conversation continues; contractor refutes allegations

Queen Anne builder Todd Maschmedt has taken issue with Queen Anne & Magnolia News coverage of complaints lodged by neighbors of his condo project at 1413 Third Ave. W. ("Contractor on Queen Anne project leaves legacy of complaints," Feb. 27).

Describing himself as "a standup guy" who bent over backwards trying to accommodate concerns from neighbors to the north and south of the project, Maschmedt also refutes the allegations made by the neighbors.

The Department of Planning and Development authorized him to cut down the large maple tree, the contractor said, adding that the tree was 10 to 12 feet away from where he needed to hook up utilities. It was Bill Ames, a Seattle Department of Transportation arborist, who told him move the utility hookup even farther away because of potential damage to the root system, Maschmedt said.

Ames also discovered that
Maschmedt had dumped paint preservatives near the maple tree, according to an e-mail he sent to "The solvent dump was a mistake by my painter," said Maschmedt in a
March 3 discussion with News staff.

Moreover, he added that the solvent on the ground was overspray left from employees' treating lumber on the planting strip, and that none of it ended up near any vegetation. Maschmedt said he was still awaiting results of toxicology tests on the soil that was removed from the planting strip and bagged up.

As for Susan Carr's complaint that runoff from his walkway on the south side of the project caused erosion on her property, Maschmedt alleges that Carr did that herself when she turned her hose on full blast and aimed it at the muddy walkway on his property.

Police were called on that occasion, and an officer warned Carr she could be charged with property damage on Maschmedt's side of the property line, he said. "This is the kind of thing I had to deal with," Maschmedt said.

As noted in the original story, Maschmedt's crew repaired a retaining wall on the property belonging to Carr and her husband, Ralph Levin. The crew also washed off hydraulic fluid that had splashed on their home from a broken hose on a piece of construction equipment. But Maschmedt said Carr and Levin approached him later and wanted him to repaint their entire home.

Dave Wawitz, who lives to the north of the condo project, said in the original story that he had a written contract with Maschmedt in which the contractor was supposed to - among other work - reseed his lawn, repair and replace small damaged retaining walls in his yard, and rebuild an old deck on the side of his house.

Not true, said Maschmedt. The original contract - which Masch-medt provided a copy of - called for him to pay Wawitz $5,000 for the use of his yard as a staging area. Maschmedt said he paid the money to Wawitz even before work on the project began.

The issues of reseeding the lawn and replacing the dock came up later, the contractor said. As for fixing the retaining wall that was partially demolished in Wawitz's yard, Masch-medt said he has been waiting for Wawitz to let him know if he wants the whole wall replaced or repaired with the kind of stones Wawitz would choose to match the original ones.

Wawitz also said a trellis in his yard was destroyed during construction. "I know nothing of a trellis," said Maschmedt, who added that he hauled off a huge amount of overgrown sticker bushes and debris from Wawitz's yard.

Wawitz also complained in the original story that wires from Maschmedt's project were left dangling on his side of the fence Maschmedt built, and the story included a photo of the wires.

The contractor wasn't sure what had happened, but he said the wires should have been stapled to the fence and buried. Maschmedt also said he had his electrician take a look at the dangling wires with the idea of fixing the problem, only to be ordered off the property by Wawitz.

Maschmedt conceded he had gotten a complaint about a 2005 project on 11th Avenue West, but he said the complaint was lodged by a woman in the neighborhood who falsely claimed he had damaged a planting strip she was caring for. "That was the only complaint I ever heard."

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