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South Park co-creator helps make deal to save 3 Portland sequoias

PORTLAND — A deal has been reached in Portland to save three sequoias a developer planned to cut down to make room for new homes.

Arthur Bradford, who lives next to the 150-foot trees and was involved in negotiations, said neighbors will buy the lot with the trees from Everett Custom Homes. The lot will be turned into a small public park.

A nearby lot will be purchased by another developer who will build a smaller home without disturbing the trees.

The agreement was being finalized on Friday.

Bradford declined to give specifics of the deal, but said Everett Custom Homes significantly lowered the purchase price from the original $900,000.

He said South Park co-creator Matt Stone donated to help save the trees. Neighbors and tree activists also gave, and they continue to raise money.

The neighbors have gathered at the base of the 150-foot trees since Monday, when a crew hired by the developer arrived with chain saws. An environmental activist suspended himself from one of the trees.

Police on Thursday removed several protesters from the lot, prompting the Portland mayor's office to broker a deal between neighbors and the developer.

Everett Custom Homes bought the property with the trees earlier this year; it's located in an affluent, leafy neighborhood near Reed College, a top rank liberal arts school. The developer demolished an old home that stood at the base of the trees and was planning to build two large new houses once the trees were cut.

Neighbors said the trees are about 150 years old and should be saved because they're a public treasure and part of the neighborhood's aesthetic.

Robert McCullough, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, said the neighbors previously negotiated with the developer to buy the property, but were unable to raise enough money.

This time, not only is the price lower, but the agreement allows neighbors to purchase the lot with the trees while continuing to collect funds, said Bradford.

The activist planned to remain on a platform suspended in the tree until the deal is signed.

Police stand under three giant Sequoia trees to stop protestors from accessing the area.