Neighbor will have to sue neighbor for tree damage | News

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Neighbor will have to sue neighbor for tree damage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Benjamin Cole said a crashing sound woke him from his sleep early Monday morning.

"It was around four o' clock in the morning we heard something," said Cole, "it sounded like someone was running across the roof.

It wasn't. When Cole went out to check what woke him up, he found it was the crashing sound of his neighbor's tree.

"I've been reporting the problem to the city since November of last year," he said.

He was reporting the condition of the tree and the potential danger. The city's Municipal Code Compliance Division responded because the tree is on private property. If it was on public property, the city's Department of Public Works will remove it.

M.C.C.D. responded to his complaints; a code enforcement officer issued the property owner a citation. When nothing was done to minimize the risk, the city marked the tree for removal.

"In December, they said they had a work order," said Cole, "nothing happened and on February they issued a second work order."

Even though the city responded, Cole said there was no urgency and that's why he is upset and disappointed.

"It is a big tree and you can see it is rotten," said Cole.

The goal of the city was to remove the tree as soon as possible. The contract was awarded but apparently there was not a firm schedule.

"It was marked with Orange paint since December of last year," Cole said, "and nothing happened."

Cole said he followed the proper steps to avoid the tree falling like it did and now he wants to know who is going to pay for the damage to his property.

"When it is something that's is threatening damage to your property," said Cole, "I would think that would be a priority. If that's not a priority, I would like to know what are their priorities?"

Kim Scott, chief of MCCD, said it is a civil matter.

"If this is a tree on privately owned property, it is a civil matter between the two property owners," said Scott.

Scott even if the city was going to remove the tree because the property owner failed to correct the violation, the liability for any damage is with the property owner.

"We are not responsible for the privately-owned tree," said Scott, "The city does mark the trees for removal, but the owner is responsible for that removal or any property damage."

She said if the city owns the property, then the city would remove the tree or would be responsible for any damage.

As in similar cases, the city was going to remove the tree, at taxpayers expense, and then place a lien on the property to recover the cost.

Cole is going to have to sue his neighbor to repair the damage to his property.


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