Neighbors question who downed tree belongs to - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Neighbors question who downed tree belongs to

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Neighbors are trying to figure out who owns this tree that fell (WFSB) Neighbors are trying to figure out who owns this tree that fell (WFSB)
NAUGATUCK, CT (WFSB) -

It’s been a week since deadly storms moved through the state, knocking down many trees in the process.

Now, many homeowners have questions about the cleanup, especially when it comes to trees that don’t belong to them.

In Naugatuck, a resident had a tree come down, causing damage in her yard.

“I saw the tree crack. I heard it, it fell down and all I could say was ‘please don’t put a hole in my roof, please don’t put a hole in my roof’,” said Kim DiMarco, of Naugatuck.

It didn’t damage her home, but the force from the pine during last week’s deadly storms crushed the mailbox and came several feet from her front door on Brook Street.

The tree is on the boundary between her property and her neighbor's, and it’s close enough to the road where it might belong to the town.

She didn’t know who would be responsible for removal, so she called the town of Naugatuck.

“Why shell out the money if it’s not my tree,” she said.

On Tuesday, town Engineer Wayne Zirolli checked it out and he said in this case, a surveyor will need to come out to make an official determination.

Last week’s storms knocked down many trees. At least 12 people in Naugatuck have similar concerns and they’re probably not alone.

Zirolli says towns determine ownership in a variety of ways, but he said most check the decades-old archives, looking at street and property lines.

“Usually there’s some distance behind the edge of the road that the town owns, which is the road right of way,” he said, adding that it varies when it comes to how many feet.

The other variables include the width of the street.

“In cases where a street line hasn’t been established, a surveyor has to use his best efforts,” he said.

When it comes to removing a huge tree, that decision can be worth thousands of dollars.

Zirolli said the town will claim responsibility when at least half of the tree is on town property.

If it’s on private land, even if it’s not your tree, if it’s in your yard, he said you’re responsible for cleaning it up.

“If it’s fallen on your property at least that portion, you need to take care of,” Zirolli said.

That’s what DiMarco and her neighbors said they plan to do.

While the tree ownership still gets sorted out, DiMarco said her neighbors will help cut the rest of the tree up. If anyone needs firewood, she said to come to Brook Street.

AAA has tips on insurance coverage for tree damage like this situation:

Vehicles

  • Physical damage to a car caused by heavy wind or fallen tree limbs is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.
  • If your car is damaged by a fallen tree or limbs, you would need to file a claim using your vehicle policy’s comprehensive coverage. 

Homes

  • If your tree falls on your house, your insurance will cover removal of the tree and home repairs due to damage.
  • If your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s homeowner’s policy would provide insurance coverage. The same holds true if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home; you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
  • If a tree falls in your yard, but doesn’t hit anything, you would pay for its removal in most cases.
  • Additionally, if a tree on your property is weak, damaged, or decayed, but you do nothing about it, and it crashes down on a neighbor’s home (or vehicle), you could be held liable for damages. 
  • Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Wind-driven rain that causes an opening in the roof or wall and enters through this opening is also covered.
  • Damage to a house and its contents caused by a collapse is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.

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