CLINTON—Oak Ridge is seeking up to $50,000 in damages from two residents accused of cutting down about 30 trees on a city greenbelt near Westlook Circle in September 2009.
The city filed the lawsuit against Oak Ridge residents Chris Dollman and Jeff Crawford in Anderson County Circuit Court on Friday, Aug. 17.
The complaint alleged that Crawford, who lives on West Outer Drive, helped cut down the trees near Dollman’s home at 112 Westlook Circle, which adjoins the city greenbelt.
Dollman admitted in September 2009 that he cut down the trees, but he denied that they were on the city greenbelt, the lawsuit said.
“It was defendant Dollman’s position that the trees cut were on property owned by him,” the lawsuit said.
However, it alleged that Dollman and Crawford located property lines without any help from a surveyor.
The city said property lines established by a licensed surveyor that it hired showed that “numerous trees of various size were cut on city greenbelt.”
After unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue, the city pursued the matter in city court. Dollman and Crawford were found guilty of unlawful cutting of trees on a city greenbelt after an April 2011 trial, and they were fined $50 and costs, the lawsuit said.
But the city’s reimbursement requests for property destruction have not been resolved, the complaint said.
It alleged that Dollman and Crawford are guilty of negligence in the cutting and destruction of city property, and it alleged they “breached a duty of care” by not having a survey conducted and by not notifying the city that they were going to remove trees from land adjoining the greenbelt.
The lawsuit said Dollman and Crawford are liable for an amount double the current market value of the trees, estimated at about $25,000.
Kay Williamson says
well if they cut down 30 trees and they are worth 25,000 dollars, then lets thin out the green belt and sell off some of these trees for some more revenue and pay toreplant and the greenbelt needs some cleaning out and why not plant new trees,,,,,,,,
Johnny Appleseed says
Is the COR operating a “tree patrol” of some sort? If not, how did the cutting of trees on Westlook Circle, which is located at the far northern boundary of the developed portion of Oak Ridge, come to the attention of the COR? Inquiring minds want to know. I suppose I’ve been destroying public property for some years by cutting grass on the city property that adjoins my lot. The COR hasn’t taken note of it, perhaps because no “neighbor” has called to complain.
The COR paid for a “professional survey” and the initial return on that investment was $50. Nice. Time to move on to important matters. This story has been picked up by the syndicated media. A government entity versus private citizens rarely plays out as a PR win for the government.
OR Resident says
In response to Appleseed – The reason the City got involved is due to numerous complaints from surrounding neighbors. Not only did Dollman cut trees on the greenbelt, but he also cut them on another resident’s property. They were very upset about it but did not want to hassle with pursuing legal action. Other neighbors called to complain because it was obvious that trees on the greenbelt were cut. Crawford, who actually did all the work with the “guidance” of Dollman, absolutely butchered the area, and neither he or Dollman made any attempt to clean up. It was, and is, hideous.
Johnny Appleseed says
Thanks for the info. That explains how the city became aware of a problem that is largely a dispute between property owners.
Though I have sympathy for the concerns and frustration of the neighbors and none for Crawford and Dollman, I am not in agreement with the COR’s heavy involvement in this dispute. The COR got its legal judgment and $50. Now I’d like to know who in city government is pursuing this course of action; they are ramping up to spend a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to extract grossly inflated damages. The COR can’t (or won’t) seek financial judgments against derelict absentee landlords who are responsible for real blight in the city but they see fit to claim inflated damages for trees that were largely out of sight.
What is the plan for the $50k, provided the COR wins its lawsuit and can manage to collect some portion of the judgment over the next 10-20 years? Is it going to replant the trees? Pay someone to saw the cut trees into firewood?
Susie Williams Taylor says
Why not utilize the “services” of these mean with clean-up work within the City. Community Service. Starting with the mess they left?! Seems it would be a worthwhile “fine”, at least to begin with~~~
Susie Williams Taylor says
Should have read “men”,…not “mean”. Apologies for dancing fingers!