On Thu, 13 Nov 2003 22:37:49 GMT, email@example.com (Roy) wrote:
Not true. Your options are wider if you own 20 or 20,000 rural acres,
but unless you own the whole planet, you *are* subject to many
restrictions. Urban/suburban, state, and federal regulations may
prevent you from planting nuisance trees and plants, allowing
fire-hazard brush and weeds to flourish, cultivating prohibited
substances, and heaven knows what else. Water rights questions have a
ripe history of regulation and crime. And litigation.
Living in some proximity to other people involves *many* restrictions.
On noise. On keeping 27 cats. On painting your house purple. On
unlicensed electrical "improvements." Even on skinny-dipping in your
own back yard.
Generally speaking, any act that negatively affects the value of your
property is potentially illegal or at the very least open to civil
litigation. This might include things you wouldn't necessarily think of
immediately, such as increased run-off of storm water into your lot, or
changes in protected ecosystems such as wetlands or riparian zones.
Depending upon where you live and how enviormentally aware your local
government is, the clearing of trees above a certain girth on private
residential land may require a permit process or review. You should
investigate and make sure your neighbor is conforming to the letter of the
law. If you tell us the city or county, I'm sure we can find the pertinent
You're wise to try to strike up a dialogue with the goal of reaching a
mutually agreable course of action.
Other comments you have received appear appropos, but don't discount how the
removal of trees and/or associated disturbance of soil and topography may
affect drainage. In most municipalities, adversely impacting drainage or
altering drainage so that runoff transverses someone else's property is a
serious no-no. If land is flat and drainage is not a concern, proceed with
whatever course of action you feel appropriate - if not, check with whatever
city officials oversee those issues first.
pam - gardengal
Although what you can or can't dop is up to individual city county
state laws, ordinances, here were I am from I do anything i darn well
desire with anything on my propery no matter what my neighbor thinks.
He may be able to cut overhanging limbs from "my" trees, but only I if
I choose can cut "MY" trees without any permision from anyone. I guess
having the "permission" to do this is all about living in a non-nazi
type state unlike Kalifornia and some others.
I wonder why he a tough cookie to deal with......perhaps its from
having folks that don't pay his mortgage payments and such try and
tell him what he can and can't or should not do on his own property.
Plant your own trees and have total control and not have such
Visit my website: http://www.frugalmachinist.com
Opinions expressed are those of my wifes,
I had no input whatsoever.
Remove "nospam" from email addy.
Regardless of the tree hugger I am, my first reaction is mind your
own! It's his land. Perhaps you have an enlightened local government
and have a place to complain and affect a change in strategy for
removal. Bee has the best advise yet..."palnt your own trees", David
as usual hasn't a clue, as if hiring an attorney is an affordable
Find out what your local laws are. Around here, you need a permit to cut
down trees with trunks larger than a certain diameter, but getting the
permit isn't a major deal. Changing the topography in such a way that
run-off adversely affects a neighbor is usually a big no-no, but some
places if you change the elevation of an area bigger than x by more than
y inches you may need a permit. If this activity is part of developing
the property, parts of the plan may be allowed by the development plan,
but in other areas separate permits and plans need approval from
In general I doubt that you'll find anywhere with an ordinance that will
address windbreaks, or sun vs. shade issues, or aesthetic issues. But
you never know. Those things may be addressed by a HOA or in the CC&R's.
You say he's a tough neighbor to deal with, but that may be because of
the way people approach him. Do you know *why* he's clearing them out?
Could part of his plan be good for you? Maybe if you help him with the
parts that will be good for you, you might be able to talk him into a
compromise on the parts that aren't.
Before you entrench yourself too much into the position that what he's
doing will adversely affect your property, think about how you'd feel if
a neighbor came to you with nothing but complaints about what you're
doing on your property. While you want to protect your property, and
your rights to enjoy it the way you see fit, your neighbors want the
same thing. They don't want to have to get your approval to make changes
to their property any more than you want to get approval before you do
something on yours.
Of course we do have laws that govern the use of our property, but as
I'm sure you already realize, they don't cover everything, and even when
the subject is something covered, dealing with a neighbor on a personal
level ultimately results in better solutions than going strictly by the
To sum up my rambling, try to understand *why* your neighbor is doing
what he's doing is the first step. And if his plans adversely affect you
too much, your best route is to come up with a plan that meets his
objectives, and adversely affects you less. (And offering to help in
implementing it may be your key to success.)
Either that, or just learn to live with it.
What kind of area are we talking about here? A suburban lot? An rural
acre or more?
In urban/suburban situations, there typically *aren't* laws about
changing your landscaping, particularly about safely *removing* trees.
There may be local regs about what kinds of trees you can plant, and
how much brush and weeds consitute a nuisance and must be cleared.
This is covered locally by the "Codes & Compliance" division my city's
Just because your neighbors' trees have been providing a nice
windbreak or other incidental benefits doesn't require him to keep
them for your convenience.
You appear to be anticipating problems (other than wind) which you
don't actually know will occur. If it can be demonstrated/documented
that similar action in a similar area has resulted in significant
damage to surrounding properties, you may have some sort of a case.
If he is a tough cookie, do you want to go to the trouble and expense
of legal proceedings? I'm sure it's possible, but *I* wouldn't want to
live next to a neighbor I'd brought into court. It couldn't hurt to go
over and express your concerns in a reasonable and friendly way.
In many states there's no economical benefit (ie tax-deductible
reason) for keeping old-growth. After all, how many times have you
seen an exempt-status for someone with 5 acres of woods instead of 5
acres of farm? In NJ, 5 acres or more of farm land is given "farm
status" on property taxes (usually costing about a dollar an acre in
taxes each year), whereas normal property owners pay much more (about
$2500 per acre in some municipalities). There's no incentive to keep
woodlands around if you can wipe it out and make your land a
"tax-exempt farmland". In fact, these laws actually *favor* wiping
out woodlands in favor of tax-exempt status.
One more thing - you must make a minimum of $500 per year
in agricultural output from the "farmland" to keep the tax-exempt
status. Usually these people plant "Christmas trees", so they plant
most of the acreage with young pine seedlings, which is a good idea.
The only problem is these plants are usually cut down long before they
provide adequate food or shelter for wildlife. A good TAX shelter,
but not a good wildlife shelter heh.
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