Tree Tech Consulting    The Knothole  Hop To Forum Categories  Trees & Law    After telling them not to my neighbor cut 30 trees

Closed Topic Closed
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
After telling them not to my neighbor cut 30 trees
 Login/Join 
<Scott>
posted
Recently while my neighbor was cutting back a 75 year old hedge row she cut a few trees off my property. I immediately spoke with her as a good neighbor should, Showed her the property pins, Reviewed the line ans asked that she not cut trees on my side. 5 days later she began cutting more. I again asked her to stop. 2 days ago she cut down 7 large (7+feet tall) flowering bushes in the row CLEARLY on my property. We were decent neighbors and now it has turned ugly. Do I have a legal case in NY to sue for the damages. How do I put a value on trees that have been a part of my family's property for almost 100 years. Due to the cutting a Highway is now visible from my house. Can anyone help or advise? How do I get a stay to discontinnue the cutting?

Thanks
 
Report This Post
<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 13, 2002 at 22:56:56:

First, and immediately, put it in writing. Write a letter to her explaining all the details, including when you spoke to her about the cutting she had already done. Send the letter to her Certified Mail with Return Receipt. Also send a copy to your lawyer (if you have one).

Next, talk to a good lawyer about your rights. They vary depending on venue, so you need an attorney with some knowledge or experience in tree law in your area. I'm not a lawyer, so I can't offer legal advice.

The value of the trees and other plants is dependent on many factors, including what the local courts will allow as methods of valuation or appraisal. Value often depends on type and size of plant, where it is located, and what benefits it provides.

In addition to finding a good lawyer I suggest you contact a consulting arborist with experience in appraising landscape plants. The American Society of Consulting Arborists can recommend highly qualified arborists and consultants in your area. Their web site and database is at

http://www.asca-consultants.org (link below)

or contact the main office at

American Society of Consulting Arborists
15245 Shady Grove Road
Suite 130
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 947-0483

Again, the most important thing is to contact the neighbor again to prevent more damage.
 
Report This Post
<Guy>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on April 13, 2002 at 22:56:56:

Three things to add:

Photograph extensively. Pictures of stumps with property line clearly marked w orange string, stakes etc. can be crucial to both recovery of loss as well as stopping future trespass.

Research on your own local covenants, ordinances, and laws. This will decrease your lawyer bills if you decide to get one. You may save the lawyer legwork, and shorten your learning time.

Contact local law enforcement immediately. Willful trespass is a crime in any jurisdiction, and their involvement and documentation can only help your case.

Plese tell us what happens. Thanks.
 
Report This Post
<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 13, 2002 at 22:56:56:

I thank you both for the great advise. I have contacted a licenced surveyor to mark the property line and also an arborist. So far my out of pocket expenses are over $1000. My question is , Is it all worth it? The damage has already been done and it won't grow back for 10 years or more. You can see the highway now more easily especially at night. I did the legal research and in NY, Chapter 81, Article 8 section 861 holds my neighbor liable for the damage. My Father, from whom I bought the property, says "What's the big deal? Its just an old hedge row."

To us it is a place for Birds to eat wild berries, squirls to climb, rabbits to hide and deer to feed. It also gave us privacy. We have planted over 100 new trees and shrubs on the property over the past 4 years and spent $1600 for an invisible fence instead of a retaining wall for our pets. All this to retain the rustic natural beauty of our land.

Before I meet with an Lawyer and spend more money, which I would rather spend on landscaping, I need to ask if there is a significant risk that a judge will laugh at us and say "but it was just an old hedge row. What's the big deal?" We are not out for money but would like to have the trees back. Any advise?

Scott
 
Report This Post
<Scott Cullen>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 13, 2002 at 22:56:56:

A couple of things. NY as you know is a big state with huge contrasts between affluent suburbs and rural communities. The perception of value or damage will similarly vary widely. $1000 in expenses might be peanuts in Westchester and just nuts in Madison or Chemung.

There are a couple of us here who have a little idea of the turf. Can you tell us which county?

Second.... it depends how a judge reads the law and how a local jury reads the facts. The issue is MEASURE OF DAMAGES... what will a judge admit or a jury cry over or laugh at? My uinderstanding of NY law is some judges will look at reduction in RE value only. Others at replacment costs. I know of one case where RE loss was $0 and replacment cost was in the hundreds of thousands. The judge said both were absurd, that his was a court of equity as well as law and instructed the parties to come back to him with a settlement. SO another issure is wether the judge will look at equity. Ask your lawyer.

I hope that helps.
 
Report This Post
<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Scott Cullen, on April 16, 2002 at 10:47:37:

First to answer your question I live in a geat little town called Pine City in Chemung county NY (Great guess!!)
I don't know what RE means but it doesn't sound good. Replacement wise I am sure that a nursery somewhere could sell me (7) 7' tall bushes (2) 6" diameter cherries, and about 15-20 cherry, walnut, and locust trees with 1-3" dia trunks at the base. Does anyone know where I might aquire an estimate for such large trees? I spoke with an atorney who said that the legal costs may go to $2000+ I don't have $3000 to gamble with. Any advise?
 
Report This Post
<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 16, 2002 at 12:57:10:

RE, sorry, means real estate. Any particular judge I'm told might say "well what was the reduction in real estate value?" Some other judge might allow some replacement. If it turns out to be a $2000 gamble I'd rather put my money into my own replacments that will actually grow than in a lawyers pocket. And anything you can get the neighbor to kick in is gravy.

Look in the phone book for nurseries in your area. You don't want to pay for somebody coming a long way... you want most of your money going into plants. Also look in the phone book for Cooperative Extension, or Cornell Cooperative Extension or USDA Cooperative Extension and ask them about good nurseries.

I'll check some more and come back if I find anything useful.
 
Report This Post
<Guy>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 16, 2002 at 13:45:34:

When planning for replacement, don't ignore "rejuvenation'. this is the horticultural term for cutting a tree/shrub at the base and training the sprouts to regrow.
You may actually get more screen and wildlife value in the long run, if you allow those single-trunk trees to regrow as clump trees.

The "Cost of Cure" for your loss may be the time and expense of training those trees into replacing themselves (?!)
Any money you spend on replacement might be better spent on widening/lengthening that hedgerow with select shrubs and trees. by all means plan on most of the stumps regrowing--fertilize and mulch to speed the process!

Still by all means you can go after the trespasser/destroyer of your property. Screen and wildlife benefits add to the value of your property, to many potential buyers. I've seen people represent themselves in small-claims court and win (and lose too, if they don't do their homework.)
 
Report This Post
<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Guy, on April 16, 2002 at 16:27:08:

Well Today's update is... I have contacted our Community Dispute Resolution Service in order to try to resolve this without the lawyers. My wife and I spoke last night and agreed that 1 more try to peacfully resolve this with our neighbor is the right thing to do. Like I said it was never about money just principle.

We are going to ask for something and I am looking for comments on our wishes. Remember This is a Hair salon next door.

1. we would like them to turn off their outside 15 billion watt light at night there is one in the back of the building so security is not a problem. (you can't see the stars with it on)
2. We would like them to pay for the survey ($550) for which we needed to prove our case only.
3. They, following the sheriff's visit, put up ugly NO TRESSPASSING signs (2) along our property facing our bay window. We would like them removed.
4. We would like an equal # of 2-3' tall trees to replace the ones cut. We will plant them at our expense.

Do these requests sound unreasonable considering the lawsuit could be in the thousands? In NY the law is treble (triple)damages shall be awarded when someone cuts your trees.
Are we being too nice to a person that has shown no regard for our peaceful living for years?
 
Report This Post
<Scott C>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 16, 2002 at 19:47:46:

The key is "treble what?" Go back to the measure of damages and what the law or negotiation will allow. Three times nuthin' is nuthin'. Certainly a useful thing in negotiation however.
 
Report This Post
<Stephen Wiley>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 16, 2002 at 19:47:46:

Scott,

Will the "Community Dispute Resolution Service [CDRS]" have representitive make contact with these folks, or are you required to deliver your message?

The "No Tresspassing signs" seem to make a statement of: NO COMMUNICATION EITHER. The perpetrator's (neighbor's) probably do not accept your survey results.

I personally have the impression that unless you can personally re-open the lines of communication, the neighbor's will most likely not heed to the CDRS requests.

Obviously, they believe the property is theirs, and/or they have the right to remove shrubbery based upon signage! (Whether existing or not). You did mention they are running a business this may be their motive and to them the justification for their actions.

Communication is the only way you can resolve this peacefully. If they refuse the next step is yours to determine. Only announce your terms once you have established communication.

Just my two cents worth!
 
Report This Post
<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on April 17, 2002 at 09:35:04:

My previous message may have been confusing

The CDRS calls both parties together for the purposes of discussing issues between neighbors. They act as non partial mediators only. Neither party is obligated to communicate but My wife and I figure that we should try. We will be living here for a long while and don't need problems with neighbors. If the neighbor is going to communicate with us we will ask for the aforementioned requests. If we and the neighbor can not come to an agreement we will have no choice but to follow up the situation through the courts.
 
Report This Post
<Bob Wulkowicz>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 13, 2002 at 22:56:56:


I'd take a chain saw or similar device d' destruction (that's French...) and go over to her yard and cut down a corresponding patch of what might be important to her. If she complains, I'd say, "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was you.)

If she takes you to court, let the jury decide. That won't cost as much as you starting the litigation with the expenses of a lawyer.

Failing that, I'd get a photo of my mooning as a general pose; get it enlarged and leave it up where she can see for a year. Maybe she start up some fast growing greenery to hid the view of my righteous butt.

Justice in my world generally doesn't involve the fetid participation of lawyers.

Bob Wulkowicz
 
Report This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  

Closed Topic Closed

Tree Tech Consulting    The Knothole  Hop To Forum Categories  Trees & Law    After telling them not to my neighbor cut 30 trees

© 1997-2003 Tree Tech Consulting. All messages are the property of the original author.