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Homeowners accused of hiring people to cut down public trees to improve their views have agreed to pay $440,000 to settle a lawsuit with the city of Seattle. See the press conference below. 

The agreement announced Wednesday settles one of two civil lawsuits the city filed over illegal clearcutting in a public greenbelt in the West Seattle neighborhood.

Two couples, Stanley and Mary Harrelson and Marty and Karrie Riemer, entered the settlement last week. The city says the unauthorized cutting occurred in an environmentally critical area on a steep slope below their homes.

Both couples said in statements that they took responsibility for a portion of the cutting that took place.

"In doing so, without thinking about that it's public property, they made the decision for the rest of us that this green space was no longer needed," said Sue Ellen White with Save the Trees.

The city will use the money to replant trees and hire young people to help restore the greenbelt.

The city will also assign its claims against the alleged tree cutters to the couples, allowing them to sue.