Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Help Me Howard: Blooming Tree
Your neighbor's tree, making a mess in your yard. Sound familiar? Well, it is in South Florida. Sometimes there are easy solutions, sometimes they are tough, which is why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Valentina Hines: "Videotaping the driveway."
Valentina Hines: "We have a real problem here. It's a lot of clean-up. It's constant blowing, raking and bagging of the flowers."
Valentina's headache is her neighbor's towering tree, spreading flowers over their yard ... and Valentina's yard.
Valentina Hines: "And it flowers at different times of the year. I would say at least two, if not three or four."
We are told it's a pink trumpet tree, which is not native to the United States. A nice little addition to the neighborhood when Valentina moved in.
Valentina Hines: "We bought it in 1992, and the tree wasn't that large. For years it wasn't a problem, but since it's gotten so large, it's a problem."
Valentina knows the tree is trouble, and the owner of the property with the massive tree doesn't disagree.
Patricia Wysocki: "We understand how the people feel. We are not happy with the mess we get either.
Valentina has a solution for Pat.
Valentina Hines: "If I were them, I would cut the tree down. You know, to be a good neighbor."
Pat says she and her husband discussed that, but...
Pat Wysocki: "The tree is under the foundation of the house. We can't remove it. The way that it's underneath here, we are afraid it's going to cause serious problems with the foundation."
Meaning the blooming tree has stayed rooted, a headache, Valentina says, and on rainy days, a danger.
Valentina Hines: "Well, my mother almost fell when the flowers were slippery. She almost fell in our driveway because it's like a skating rink when it's wet with the flowers."
Valentina and her husband finally thought they had solved the problem. After they retired, they bought this nice place near Homosassa Springs and are planning to put their home up for sale, but they worry the tree will block their departure.
Valentina Hines: "I'm afraid whoever wants to buy our property is not going to want to live next to a tree that makes such a mess on our vehicles and driveways."
The bottom line: At certain times of the year, the tree is a blooming mess, and Valentina doesn't know what to do.
Valentina Hines: "It's a terrible situation, and they're very nice people."
Well, Howard, legally is there a solution to a tree like this?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes. Normally it's easier to win the lottery than to make your neighbor cut down their tree, but if the tree is diseased or a threat to a home, you can get a permit to remove it. In this case, you need the homeowner's permission to remove it because it is a threat to the foundation of their home."
When we spoke to the tree owners, they said they would consider allowing Valentina and her husband to remove the tree if they paid for everything, including the root removal, and if any damage is done to their home by removing the roots under their house, Valentina and her husband would be responsible for that as well. Needless to say, Valentina isn't excited by that proposal, but if a potential buyer of their home wants the tree removed, Valentina and her husband are willing to work something out.
Howard Finkelstein: "It's best if the neighbors can work it out themselves because judges don't like to get involved. That's because there are so many trees, so many variations of the facts, that the courts usually leave it up to the homeowners to protect their own property."
Valentina hopes the buyer of their home likes the big tree or wants to help pay to remove it. And then Valentina has option 3.
Valentina Hines: "We won't be able to sell the house, so we will end up selling our place in Homosassa and staying here. That's all I can see happening."
Now, it's always amazing how many calls we get about trees. Remember, if your neighbor's tree branches hang over your property, you can cut the part of the branches hanging over your property, but you have to pay for it. Trees are great ... until they're not.
Troubles towering over you? Ready to branch out and uproot 'em? Contact us. We don't deliver flowery solutions, but hopefully you will be blooming when we are done.
With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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