Developers leveling a popular greenspace are back to work after the city of Renton forced them to stop and pay fines for cutting two protected trees.

Homeowners chose the spot in the Tiffany Park neighborhood, because it bordered a large greenspace. People used it often to hike and walk dogs, while kids played among the large trees. Wildlife were often spotted around it.

Today, the greenspace is almost entirely brown. The residents around the 3200 block of Southeast 18th Street tried to reduce the environmental impact of the 21-acre parcel slated to become 94 new homes.

"This is a big change for this immediate area," Bill Roenicke said. "It was a very interesting woods close to the city, in the city, where people and kids could study nature untouched."

Roenicke moved in during the 1980's and says the area saw little change until now. The clear-cutting is hard for him and his neighbors to watch.

More than a thousand trees were leveled for about 90 new homes, but in the process, developer Henley Homes illegally cut two protected trees.

"There were very few trees to be protected to begin with as a part of the mitigation process that we went through with the hearing examiner and the city and developer and lawyers. To find out that two weren't protected, you might look at that and say that's not a big deal, but really in the scheme of things these are really old growth trees, and we have two that are down," Cynthia Garlough said.

The two trees were big leaf maples, one 18 inches in diameter, the other about a third of that size. Neighbors are glad the city did something. It forced crews to stop work for a few days and pay $100 per tree in fines.

"I didn't know if the city would do that so I was happy to see that," Garlough said.

Garlough has called this a "David and Goliath" battle, as neighbors fought the development company to protect any trees they could.

"Goliath's leash holder, if you will, the city, stepped in and found a mistake and did what they said they were going to do," Garlough said.

Developers will also have to plant 12 new trees on the project site.