Monday, February 12, 2007
Help Me Howard: Palms Killed
Let me ask you a legal question: If your neighbor does not like your plants, can he stand in his backyard and spray weed killer into your backyard? To no one's surprise, that is what one South Florida man says is happening in his neighborhood. Now, for the answer, let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Rene has a nice slice of the country, in cramped crowded South Florida.
Rene Rosa: "Yeah, it took a lot of time to get it like this and to get some privacy and to make it look nice."
In the last year, Rene has put in a pool and planted palms all along the fences.
Rene Rosa: "Yeah, you know, on the weekends with the kids. You know, that kids love it."
But, of course, even a slice of paradise can have a problem.
Rene Rosa: "Well, we started noticing a lot of brown patches on the grass right underneath them."
Not only did the grass start dying, then the palms along the same fence began to turn brown.
Meanwhile, the palms along another fence were healthy.
Rene Rosa: "Well, at first I thought it was maybe because these trees were getting more sun than those trees."
Then he looked more closely at the back fence where brown was the dominant color.
Rene Rosa: "You see, it has chemicals. There are chemicals."
At the spot where the wooden fence ended and a chain link fence picked up, it was more obvious.
Rene Rosa: "These are dying. These are all dying. All the leaves are dying. The grass is completely dead."
The chain link fence and wooden fence where everything is dying is shared by one neighbor. So Rene's wife bluntly asked him what was going on.
Rene Rosa: "'Oh, you know, these trees are starting to bother me,' and my wife confronted him, and he said, 'Yes, you know, I sprayed some chemical on them.'"
Needless to say, Rene felt like you might if a neighbor nonchalantly said, "I didn't like you landscaping so I decided to 'X' it out."
Rene Rosa: "Oh, I was extremely mad. I was very mad."
Rene's first reaction was to let it slide and replant; then he realized what would happen.
Rene Rosa: "Right, right, you and what my wife say, 'Oh, we'll plant more trees,' and I said to her, 'No, what do you mean we'll plant more trees. If we plant more trees he'll kill them again."
But can he?
Rene Rosa: "To what aspect does my trees infringe or bother him, and, does he have the right to come into a yard and kill the trees?"
You need a lawyer to answer that, and, co-incidentally, we have a guy who can landscape and read a law book -- Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "If the neighbor killed intentionally, it's a crime, and you can actually go to jail for it. If it was an accident, it's not a crime, but you still have to pay for the damage you caused."
When I called Rene's neighbor the woman told me, "Rene had weeds growing out of his fence. We put weed killer on our side of the fence but absolutely did not put any weed killer on his side."
Of course, it may not be intentional, but it appears the weed killer blew over and through the fence.
So, Howard, what does that mean?
Howard Finkelstein: "Any time you use a chemical that can kill things you have to be careful. If you are not, and it causes damage to someone's property, you have to pay. If the neighbor refuses, take them to small claims court."
Rene will now either file criminal charges or take his neighbor to small claims court because, as he put it, "I can't let him keep destroying my property."
Rene Rosa: "He feels that he has the right to kill them, he has the right to come in the yard and kill them."
Patrick Fraser: "Rene has a great case when he pursues this. He says four people heard his neighbor admit he sprayed his yard."
Now, if you are going to use chemicals be aware of how powerful they are.
The EPA has details on them -- yes, they can kill weeds or insects, but they can also hurt people, animals and groundwater. Oh, yeah, and also your neighbor's shrubs.
Problems growing all around you? Want to weed them out? Contact us, we'll spray the right solution on them.
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