Two large poplar trees fell on a home at 140 Monticello Ave. in the Murray Hill neighborhood ripping up the sidewalk Friday night—after the city's arborist deemed the trees sound.
Next door neighbors Phil and Noelle Richmond woke up when their house on Monticello Avenue shook.
"I didn't realize how bad it was. I thought maybe we lost some limbs," Phil Richmond said. "Then, I went outside with a flashlight and saw that the trees were down."
No one was injured, but homeowner Bill Bryant said his female tenant was very rattled by the whole situation.
Bryant was frustrated by the situation because he asked the city to remove those very trees weeks ago.
"About 10 to 12 weeks ago I went down to the city and met with the arborist, and asked him to come up and take a look at my tree because it was leaning towards my house," Bryant said.
Jan van Zutphen, the city's arborist, reportedly came out and inspected the trees. Bryant said Zutphen declared the trees sound.
"He said I could not trim those branches that were leaning towards my house. The two that are in my house right now," Bryant said. "I told him you're probably going to hear from me again because those trees are a danger."
The poplar trees are technically the city's property because they grew on part of the city's easement on Monticello Avenue.
City spokeswoman Rhonda Wardlaw said, "The department feels that if the arborist had found anything wrong with the exterior portion of the tree he would have made comment.
"By deeming them safe, the exterior portion of the tree is what is he was investigating. If there was an interior weakness, the arborist would not have been able to determine that ... Because of the circumstances, an investigation will now take place regarding the arborist’s evaluation deeming the tree safe."
Phil Richmond said he remembered Bryant pleading with the arborist to please take down the trees.
"The owner of the building and I have talked for a long time about getting rid of these trees because they are long past their effective lifespan," Phil Richmond said. "Well, not only did he [Jan van Zutphen] refuse to do anything because he said the trees were sound, but he refused to allow Bill to do anything on his own."
He said the city's solution was to come back and re-pave the sidewalk in front of the house that had been torn up by the two trees' roots.
"That sidewalk out there was literally put in 10 days ago," Phil Richmond said.
"She didn't have any place to go. They wouldn't let her go back in the house, and she had the two dogs," Phil Richmond said. "We put together a grab bag of clothing, toothbrush, toothpaste and gave it to her, and took her down to the Westin. That's what a neighbor would do."
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