From the Times Ledger:
A stately, 100-year-old Black Locust tree has sparked a war between two neighbors in Bellerose, with one man claiming the tree’s roots damaged his property and one woman worried that clearing the roots would cause the massive tree to topple over.
The neighbors both agree the spat began with a conversation across their shared backyard fence this summer. During the conversation, Mahendra Shah, who lives on 250th Street, asked Carolina Florica, who lives on 249th Street, where the tree is located, if she would remove some of the large, shallow tree roots growing onto his property.
After that point, however, they seem to agree on almost nothing.
Shah said he wants the tree roots gone because he believes they caused a large crack in the wall of his stand-alone, single-car garage and in the stones of his back patio.
He also said he is considering building a shed in the backyard, but cannot move forward with the plan unless the roots are scaled back.
But Florica disputes Shah’s allegation that the tree is the cause of the garage’s crack and says she should not be responsible for cutting the tree roots, saying the tree was there long before she or her neighbor were.
Florica called a New York-certified home inspector with Garber Home Inspections and an urban ecologist with Worldwide Ecology, Dr. Steven D. Garber, to inspect the tree and Shah’s garage this summer. According to an affidavit Garber gave to Florica’s attorney, the garage’s damage was not due to the tree but rather to freezing and thawing water from the roof, which Garber said does not have a gutter and is poorly maintained.
In addition, the affidavit warns cutting away portions of the tree’s root system could be dangerous, making it more susceptible to health issues “that could weaken the tree, cause death of parts of the tree and make it more likely to lose branches [or] fall in a storm.”