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Chopping 10 trees in Pittsburgh without permission could cost Penn Plaza developer big

| Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, 5:06 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
The Penn Plaza apartments in East Liberty on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.

Pittsburgh has fined a Downtown developer $42,000 for cutting down 10 trees without the city's permission on the site of former low-income apartment complex in East Liberty that's slated to become a Whole Foods grocery store.

Pennley Park South Inc., which is developing a mixed residential and retail complex on the site of the former Penn Plaza apartments along Penn Avenue, recently removed the trees.

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission in January rejected Pennley Park's plans to build a high-end housing development on the site of the low-income housing complex.

The company, a subsidiary of Downtown-based LG Realty Advisors, is suing to overturn the commission's unanimous decision.

Downtown attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represents the company, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Neighbors of the development site have criticized the project, saying it has displaced poor residents and is encroaching on the city's neighboring Enright Parklet and playground.

The Pittsburgh Department of Public Works Division of Forestry issued the fine, citing a city ordinance that requires a permit for tree removal.

It alleges Pennley Park cut down nine large linden trees and one large crabapple along South Negley Avenue and Penn Circle West.

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