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How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Posted by lori239 8 (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 30, 07 at 13:15

A developer who was clearing trees next to my property destroyed one of my red oak trees. The tree was approximately 100 years old and cannot be replaced - we are devastated. We do expect some type of compensation, but how do you put a price on an old oak tree? Does anyone know how to find out what a tree is worth and what we should ask for? Thanks very much.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Replacing it with a 30 year old semi-mature tree from a specialist nursery dealing in large trees would cost well in excess of $10,000. So there's a starting figure for you. A 100 year old tree would be worth considerably more - having one grown and moved in, plus after-care until it is established, would cost a theoretical maybe $50,000-$100,000.

And demand punitive damages as well. Check with a good lawyer.

Resin


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth??

By the way, it can be done. Make the jerk do it. Insist that he replace it. Like this. Out of his own money. Then he'll be more careful the next time.

Resin


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

The linked article gives a figure ($70K) on moving a 120 year old pecan tree for the 1996 Olympic Park in Atlanta. The tree later died (even though I heard they root pruned it in preparation months in advance). I just wanted to illustrate how very expensive it can be to install a suitably old tree (in your case as a replacement).

Here is a link that might be useful: Note about moving a 120 year old tree


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and cannot add anything helpful to the discussion but just wanted to say that photo is priceless!

Here's another one if you like to see trees danging from ropes in the sky.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

The pic I posted used to be on the Longwood Gardens website (they were the ones that planted that particular specimen), but it isn't on their website any more.

Resin


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth??

Here's the whole article (from webarchive.com) . . . gives some small insight into the work involved. I can't see it being done for much less than $100,000, what with hand digging out the tree (a week's work for 10 people; machinery would damage the roots), heavy duty 'copter hire, after care (3-4 years watering), etc, etc.

I hope the developer has insurance adequate to cover the costs of his stupidity!

Resin

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting very large trees


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

There are arborists who specialize in putting values on trees. I believe they are all ISA certified. I know insurance companies hire people like this to set insurance premiums on properties, etc.

If the $10,000 - $100,000 price seems kind of wild to you, it's really not. I'd say if your tree was healthy and 100 years old it's easily in the $50,000 - $100,000 range. I believe I saw a chart somewhere a long time ago stating that the average broad leaf tree was worth roughly $1,000 per 10' in height. But that was at least 10 years ago and for the relatively cheap Kansas City market area.

After you find a good arborist to put a replacement value on your tree, hire a good lawyer and push for the maximum you can get. Hitting developers in the pocket is the only thing that's going to get them to change and take these kinds of things seriously.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

The person you want to talk to is an ISA-certified consulting arborist. Not the most common of animals, but they do exist. One caveat to be aware of......replacement values are sometimes rejected in court simply because they exceed the market value of the property itself! This conundrum exists because the TRUE value of trees on a property are not typically quantified. Don't get me wrong. I'm horrified at the sort of thing that happened to your tree and the realization that similar things go on every day. I would definitely persue this matter. Some degree of compensation is definitely due you. And as others have already pointed out, dollars exiting their pockets is one thing these guys really notice!

+oM


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

"...worth roughly $1,000 per 10' in height..."

Meant to say "worth roughly $1,000 per 1' in height" but that was for trees over a certain height. I seem to recall it being 30' or so. Under that height the chart went off of so much $ per inch of caliper at breast height, but I can't recall those numbers off hand.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak

Thanks to all of you for the information - this is all extremely helpful. The owner of the tree (destroying!) company is supposed to come over today to look at what is left of the oak. I'm not sure if at that point he will make us an offer to compensate for our loss, or if he will get with his insurance company. We were just hoping we wouldn't have to go thru hiring an attorney. I will let you know what happens in case you are interested. Again, thanks very much!


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Is the company a land clearing or excavation company or is it a general contractor?

Usually GC's are used to the threat of lawsuits and know pretty well how far they can sleaze out and jerk chains to get away with stuff. They could easily ignore you, leaving you to pay for your arborist consult and the retainer for your lawyer and this all take years in the court system. By the time it comes to a resolution, you probably will have moved out of your current home and taken residence elsewhere. Or they will try to settle by offering a fraction of what it will cost to replace it with an older tree knowing you will take the cash. Your atty will take most of it.

Once they find out how much this 100 year old replacement is going to cost them then it's a pretty safe bet you're going to be dealing with voicemail from here on out.

One of the local growers I like has a 9" (30'tallx24'spread) northern red oak for about $1300. I'd find out what it will cost for transport and planting and that is what I'd try to get out of the guy when he shows up.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

It is a timber company and I think they basically just clear land for the developer. The developer is very small, just one man who inherited this property and divided it into lots about 3.5 acres each, so he's not your typical developer. One thing I wanted to mention, and would like your opinions - since this property used to be a cow pasture, there are hardly any trees on our lot except in the back of the property. There are hundreds of acres of woods behind the house and we own several hundred feet of that. So the tree that was destroyed was behind our house in the woods and you really couldn't see it very well, or I would be even more upset. But I don't think that makes the tree worth any less. It was still devastating to have an old oak tree destroyed whether we could see it from our house or not. I just have a feeling that the owner of the timber company who comes out today will try and use that in his favor - but it shouldn't matter, should it? Thanks again everyone, you all are so helpful.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

You all were right about having to get an attorney - the owner of the tree company came out and offered my husband $300! Then more bad news to come....he said that he is considering not taking the job (there is more to be done to clear trees for a road going in) due to the liability because once they start root raking, we will lose about 40' of trees on our property. So.....time to call that attorney.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 31, 07 at 12:30

Lori, I don't know how it works in your state, but in this one that contractor if licensed would be required to carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance, and trespass (falling of a tree on adjacent property) is taken very seriously. Please call that lawyer - there is no reason locating a road on property next to yours should cause you damage


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Well, "get a lawyer" is a common cry in a situation like this, but I need to warn you, not so easy, and maybe not a good idea.

First, when the power company destroed 5 of my trees I checked around among the local lawyers in Western MD and not one would advise me to proceed with a lawsuit (they were honest), and not one would take the case on a contingency basis. If I wanted to pay for their time and then see what I could get, fine, but I learned later with another case what that could lead to.

When we had our custom house built in Winchester, VA there were some really terrible problems showing either complete incompetence or willful neglect. The main problem was a really bad leak that the builder would not take serious measures to correct. Since the leak was destroying our house, after two years of having the builder play games, we had the needed work done ourselves. It came to about $25,000. We then contacted a lawyer--he would not take the case on any contingency basis, so we decided to pay him for his time. You can't imagine how fast the bills ran up and how slow the progress was. We finally decided to forget about it. There was no guarantee we would win and the legal bills could swallow up all we might get and more!

Anyway, as for the trees I lost, the electric company, after I negotiated for myself without legal representation, finally decided to pay me for just one, $2,500 for a 30 foot tall Japanese Larch. I accepted that and forgot about the others.

I advise some "reasonable tone" personal negotiations, maybe some hint that you might get a lawyer, but saying that you don't want to, and then if a reasonable offer is made, accept it. But I would get some respected arborist's opinion about the tree's worth. I think an estimate of the cost of replacement, which will be different from the tree's real worth based on any common measure, can be something you can put into the mix of your discussions (I did this with my larch tree), but I doubt that can be the sole basis for a settlement.

I am sorry for your loss--I have had the same experience. But I don't want this event to become any worse for you than it has to be. Hiring a lawyer might lead to that.

--Spruce


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

I generally agree with Spruce, about trying to negotiate in good faith on your own behalf, but small to medium sized loggers are just about the most uncaring corrupt people there is. They don't abide by contracts and willfully trespass and cut nearby trees on a regular basis. I've seen it dozens of times here in Kansas and neighboring Missouri. Most of the time they know most people won't sue and if they do, they'll probably end up dropping it if they ignore or prolong it as much as possible. I think the quite frankly BS offer the logger made to the original poster is further evidence that this guy has no intentions of negotiating in good faith or paying for the damage he caused. I'm actually surprised the guy didn't offer to log the tree for you and give you what the lumber is worth minus his fee for logging it of course. (I've been standing right next to a neighboring property owner when a logger did this!) I will say this, I have come across at least 1 smaller logger who was very conscientious about how he logged and what he logged and did a really good job, but that's only 1 out of the dozens I've had experience with over the years. But, I do agree, I'd try and pester/negotiate with him more for a better settlement. I'd also agree that too many lawyers out there are just greed driven near-criminals with degrees and are much more interested in padding their already overloaded pockets with as much of your money as the 40% they usually take from any settlement. Although there are some good ones out there that indeed are more interested in results and doing what they think is in your best interest. They are just far and few between in many areas.

If this was a wooded area on rural ground, I'd contact the state. Especially if it's near a stream or other water feature many states have laws about logging near them and will hit that guy with big fines if they determine he violated them. The state can also bring some possible pressure(which is free money wise for you) on the guy which could lead him to give a better offer. A state forester might even give you an idea of how much he thinks your tree is worth or what he thinks would be typical compensation for the tree. He/She might be reticent to say much about the $$ side of this, but with prodding they will probably give you some "unofficial, I never said it" kind of information which could help you out greatly.

Also, I'm almost positive those older charts I saw were for trees in city or suburban settings and trees out in rural areas, even near a house are often priced much lower. Good luck no matter what you do! It's too bad there aren't stricter laws in most states about this kind of thing, because it's a very widespread problem in much of the country.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

I also fail to see why you should lose any more trees ON YOUR PROPERTY from their clearing land on their property! I can see where the land owner is entitled to clear trees off his land, and to dig up stumps, etc., but his doing that should NOT entail doing any damage to your property.

If he is clear-cutting to have the maximum clear land for his lots, OK, but it should come under the same laws as the case of someone being able to trim back branches of a tree on your property that extend over the common property line - he/she can trim to the line but no further, and can do nothing that would permanently damage the tree. If the contractor was talking about the damage to the roots of trees ON YOUR LAND from the stump pulling/root raking on the neighbor's land, then I think you have a legitimate argument that he should leave a buffer zone of trees between your property and his, or move the road so it isn't right at the property line, which would be common sense anyway, in my book.

If I were you I would first TALK to a lawyer, just to be clear on what the law does and does NOT allow as a general rule, then talk to an arborist or forester (try your county ag. extension agent, for suggestions if he/she can't do it) about replacement value for the oak, and possibly also about timber value, since it seems that that may be the minimum you can get. I would then sit down with the land owner (and maybe with the guy clearing the trees, or maybe not, as he doesn't seem to be very conciliatory) and TRY to have a calm talk about doing the least damage possible. The land owner may have to re-route his road and give up a lot or two, in order not to do too much damage to your property, but you want to get that sorted out BEFORE the trees are cut for the road. If you can't do it before the trees are cut, you at least want to do it before they begin excavating for the road. Mentioning that you have spoken with a lawyer about your rights may mean that you won't actually HAVE to engage a lawyer, or try to engage one to represent you as you go to court! If all else fails, there is always Small Claims Court - I don't Know the maximum damages you can try for there, but no lawyer would be needed.

This seems to be a pain in the rear end, and to your emotions, and to your life. I am sorry this is happening to you. I hope you can get through it well, and with the minimum damage to you and your property.

One suggestion - if you know anyone who works as a mediator, maybe you can have them included in the meeting? While it would cost a bit, at the least, it would show you are taking matters seriously, and the mediator may be able to keep the meeting to the point and keep tempers a bit calmer? Even hiring a lawyer to run the meeting might help - it would be cheaper than a lawsuit, and law offices might be a little intimidating/conducive to concessions on their part.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Oh, I should add a little about my negotiations with the power company. At first they said I should contact the company that did the tree cutting. I said no, that the power company was the one who hired them and they had the ultimate responsibility. I contacted someone higher up in the company and argued my point successfully. You should not be talking to the logger/land clearing company, but the developer who hired them. They have the ultimate responsibility. If they want to sue the people who cleared the land, then they can do that themselves.

--Spruce


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 31, 07 at 20:51

Lori, you're getting lots of advice from people here, but I still hope you will talk to that lawyer. I don't think you are well informed as to the laws in your area or your rights pertaining to a developer as a property owner - i.e. your question about the tree being visible from your home. Your property could be without a home at all and the value of the tree would not be changed.

Chances are this would never become an actual suit in a court of law, just a letter from an attorney would show anyone involved you mean business and won't be taken advantage of, are educating yourself.

I told you earlier I'm not familiar with the standards in your state, but we own the type of company (35 years experience) here that would have gone in before the trees were cut, marked the property line and appropriate trees for removal, designed the most cost effective and legal road for the landowner, informed the neighbors of the plans so no one was surprised or upset, supervised the logger - although the logger who needed actual hands on supervising after a 'walk-through' would be an exception. Common practice, we're busy 12 months a year, no hurt feelings and no trespass.

kman, I know I'm not helping Lori by telling you this, but I find your comment 'but small to medium sized loggers are just about the most uncaring corrupt people there is' to be very much untrue. We have worked closely with logging companies of all sizes for decades, right up the our main contract the last few years which is Weyerhaeuser, and from my experience loggers are as adept at being trusted stewards of our lands as anyone - with only an occasional exception and those firms are quickly out of business.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 31, 07 at 23:32

>You should not be talking to the logger/land clearing company, but the developer who hired them<

That's what I was thinking right before I read it.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

morz8,

I suspect out in your neck of the woods there's a lot more to log and hence a lot more loggers, so competition might be forcing them to be better and more caring. I've dealt with, or have been party to others first hand dealings with loggers here in Kansas and Missouri and I've only come across 1 logger that was indeed worried about not damaging trees that weren't supposed to be logged, limiting the impact on the land overall and doing the job properly and expressed concern about the health of the forest after he was done with his job. He actually talked the property owner into leaving a few more trees he thought were important in the re-establishment of the forest in the near future.

I've been asked by friends, neighbors, farmers, etc. to come look at their property after a logger had done his "job"(they always seem to ask after the fact!) to see if the logger was staying within the contract and virtually every time I've found trees that weren't supposed to be logged got logged(either specific trees or specific species that were to be left alone got logged), trees that were supposed to of been protected were destroyed(by heavy equipment), etc. It's common practice for loggers out here in the middle part of the country for this to happen. Another common practice is for loggers to grossly undervalue the lumber they log on farmer's land, since the farmers tend to be completely ignorant of the market value of their timber. I believe there's just not enough competition for there to be better loggers out here. But some of the larger (for here) loggers around tend to be in business longer and tend to do a much more professional job. They also tend to only log the larger logging jobs around, which are relatively few. I don't know all the loggers around, and I'm sure there might be more responsible ones that I just haven't dealt with, but all of my past experiences with loggers has indeed shaped my opinion of them to something just below common criminal.

I do think it's probably a regional difference between the middle part of the country where there's not near as much large scale logging as other parts of the country(although there's enough that Georgia Pacific has a mill just about 25 miles from me).

Well, this is getting off subject, but I will say I think you've gotten lots of good advice here from many lori239. If you are on friendly terms with the current land owner you could always try and bring the situation up with them in a friendly manner and hopefully get a much better compensation offer or end up going the more aggressive route. The strategy of going after the land owner to get compensation and letting them decide to deal with whether to go after the logging company or not isn't a bad one. I've seen it work in a few situations involving loggers around here. The land owners might also have deeper pockets to make your "situation" go away .


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Well, the discussion of loggers and selling timber here is getting a little off topic here. I have been logging part time for a number of years on my own land (and had it sawn and sold the lumber), and have also sold timber that others logged. Boy oh boy do you need to be careful if you are going to sell any timber. If anyone is interested they should set up another topic and I can share all that I have learned, which is an awful lot!! Many, many people, including those who should know something, sell their timber for much, much less than it is worth.

There are also things one can do to protect their land and any remaining trees.

--Spruce


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

"The developer is very small, just one man who inherited this property and divided it into lots about 3.5 acres each, so he's not your typical developer."

That is the worst kind!!!!
The "guy" that wants to make a quick buck propping up some homes and doesn't have a reputation at stake.

I have nothing but well wishes for good fortune and speedy resolution.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

THANK YOU to you all for your comments, I've been reading them as they come in and you sure do bring up some good points. MORZ, you are right, I am not familiar with the laws in my area - I don't know exactly what direction to go in tomorrow (as today as New Year's Day) but I know I need to make some calls and get all the info. I can. Just so you all know, we did originally contact the developer about this and he said he would send the owner of the logger company out to look at it and to talk to my husband. I guess the developer thought the logger would make us happy and that would be it. But as you know, the logger offered us $300 - after he left, I saw the developer pull up out back within 30 min. or so and he was taking pictures of what's left of the oak tree. My husband went out to talk to him and the developer asked if the logger made him an offer - which of course we know he already talked to the logger and knew exactly what happened. When my husband told him he offered $300, the developer said "Well, that's a good offer!" So obviously we've got a battle ahead of us, which I don't look forward to at all. KMAN, there IS a stream directly behind our property where he is logging and we are told the developer wants to have it filled in?!

All this advice is much appreciated and I'm considering all of it as I decide what to do next. Thank you so much.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Not a realestate development company! Ah, I am not sure if this is good news or bad news--I guess it depemds on what kind of individual he is.

Anyway, a few more thoughts. Sending a letter from a lawyer asking for damages and threatening a suit is probably not going to get any response. He will get his own lawyer and in all probability, that is what he will advise. I have done that, seen that.

What would be better would be to open negotiations in as positive a manner as possible, but with all the relevant information already collected, and say that you want to resolve it without lawyers, who will get a lot of money from both of you.

But it would be a good idea to talk to one or two local lawyers and see what they say about the case and the advisability of entering into any kind of suit. But you should be aware that if the lawyer wants work he may be willing to do what you suggest without promising any success. You could end up paying a lot of legal fees. Just having a lawyer send a letter can be expensive--just that first step with our builder cost us something like $1,300 and was worthless. Preparing a case for the court can involve a lot of complexities and much more lawyer time than you would ever suspect.

I guess the bottom line for you should be how much motivation you have to "get back at" this guy, and how much time and money you want to spending doing it. If you would get some positive satisfaction out of the process, go ahead and see what you can do. My wife and I felt quite differently. Even though our builder treated us like dirt, and did a lot more really awful things I won't go into here that made us more angry than we could explain, we could see the whole business of getting "justice" and compensation ending up consuming our lives and taking time away from things we really could enjoy doing. Making this suit against our builder a major project in our lives just had no appeal for us, and we could see all our negative emotions just building and building. So we swallowed hard and bailed out of the process. We have never regretted that decision.

As for the trees the power company destroyed. I said earlier that I got compensation for just one of the 5 trees. I have to clarify that the other trees had relatively little value--certainly no more than $100 each. And although the power company recognized their fault in the destruction of those additional trees, they also had some reasons I had to recognize for not paying damages for them. So the settlement I got for the larch tree was generally fair, better than I might have hoped for, and that settlement was achieved through amicable negotiations where both parties recognized the other's position.

Another option you could consider is a "small claims" court if there is one available in your area. You can't get big damages this way because there are limits to "small claims," but my understanding is that the limits may be something like $2 to $5 thousand or so. I think you can prepare your own case for the small claims court. But I have no relevant experience here to share.

--Spruce


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Lot's of good information here and hopefully enough to get you some satsifaction with this situation. And that is one point that hasn't been brought up yet - in your opinion, what is a satisfactory resolution to this? What is the tree worth to you? Forget some theoretical assigned value based on age and size or some arcane calculation, but what is the impact to you, personally? Would a replacement with a similar tree of substantial size do it? Something like the 9 footer quirkyquercus mentioned?

Since it is a holiday and not much you can do immediately, take some time and evaluate exactly what the tree means to you emotionally and convert that to dollars and cents. And tomorrow, get on the phone and do some research - call arborists, call local nurseries that might have replacement candidates, call a lumber mill(s) and get an estimate on the value of the timber the destroyed oak might provide, do some research on the state laws that cover property damage and even touch base with an attorney if you happen to know one (it's my opinion that one should always include an attorney in one's repertoire of acquaintances - I have one I trade basic legal advice for gardening/landscape design info with!). You might find once everything is said and done and you've covered all the bases that having the responsible party replace the tree with an appropriate selection and compensate you for the timber value of the oak is the easiest and best solution.

But don't let them push you around. Do your homework first and come prepared with your research facts and figures and if possible, a couple of written estimates and stick to your guns. If that fails, then fall back to the legal action route.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

I would make copious, dated notes of all conversations with the the logger and the land-owner/developer, so you are not relying on your memories 2-4 months down the road. I would also go out and take your own photos, as many as you can, to have a clear documentation of the damage. Photos all along the line of clearing might not be a bad idea, either. Just be careful about trespassing onto his property, as he sounds as though that might possibly cause problems - it's OK for him to do but not you. And I may be maligning him.... Walking your property line, if you know clearly where it is, and where all the pins and stakes are, and marking it with flagging tape will also make you more aware of what is at stake, and make him aware that you are keeping an eye on things.

It will be more money on your part, but if your land was not recently surveyed, it might be an idea to get a new survey run, with GPS as well. At a minimum, do the common property line, so it is VERY clear what is yours and what his. If he hasn't done this, he's a proven idiot (sorry, but this sort of run-around makes me mad!) and you can at least ask for him to pay the costs. Try for a hurry-up job, as it sounds as though the land-owner/developer is not being reasonable and not going to go slow on this.

I also second (third?) the advice given above to think long and heard about WHAT you want to get out of all this, and how hard you are willing to work at it. If you push for the maximum resolution, it may take a LOT of time, it will take a LOT of money, and it will be a MAJOR lot of wear and tear on your emotions, energy and psyche. Being willing to settle for some specified mnimum may be OK, but it sounds as though you should ask for more than your minimum, to be sure of being able to bargain down to that. You just have to be clear, going in, as to what you will settle for, what you would reasonably expect to get (which may not be the same as the first item) and what you would like to get, in an ideal world. That way, you probably won't find yourself giving up and settling part way through for less than your minimum, and being sorry 6 months later.

I don't know how large a town is near by, nor how rural an area it is, but if the owner is local, sometimes a good "gossip" story can "shame" him into doing what he should have done in the first place. That sort of tactics needs to be VERY subtle, so it doesn't backfire on you, but as a last resort..., and if you feel you will NEVER be speaking to him again, it might work.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

lori, you state the developer wants to fill in a stream?!? Where I live, that would not be doable. Our DNR would swoop down-and rightly so-on a person altering to this degree a natural waterway. Surely there must be SOME protection for waterways where you live?

This story goes from bad to horrendous.

+oM


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Lori, another source of help might be your homeowner's insurance agent. They probably won't cover the tree but could point you in the right direction to get compensation for your loss.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Just like in wisconsitom stated, the DNR of IA, MO and KS (the states I'm familiar with the DNR in) would be all over him for even logging within a certain distance of a stream. Also there's some very strict laws in most states about altering drainage flows and filling in streams, not just the DNR would be all over him here for trying to fill in a stream.

I guess this just shows you need to learn what the laws are in your state and area so you can have a much better idea of what you can and can't expect to happen. I think you are getting lots of excellent advice here and knowledge really is power. The more you have, the better off you'll be.

I will add one caveat, a lot of how any negotiations will go might depend on how the local governments look upon these kinds of things. Often times many rural county governments really don't want to get involved and will do just about anything to absolve themselves of any part of it and the land owner might know this from previous experience and it might influence how genuinely he's willing to negotiate. It already sounds like the guy thinks you are ignorant of how to deal with this and he can get out of it cheap.

I might come off a bit bitter in my advice. I guess I've been jaded by previous experience with these kinds of situations(especially with loggers). I don't mean to demonize all loggers or all developers, it's just that so many rely on ignorant land owners(neighbors) and take full advantage of and abuse them. It's actually their business model in many cases around my part of the world.

Good luck in whatever you decide you want to do and what will satisfy you in the end is what is really the most important thing, like others have said so well.


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RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Lori: You've received a lot of advice, much of it good. I'll try to make this simple.

To prevail in any legal action or to get a good settlement, you need convincing evidence that supports your position and your request for relief (compensation). At this point, you don't have any evidence. The developer is already collecting evidence by taking photographs, so he is preparing for a lawsuit.

You need to write a letter to the developer that describes in detail what happened, when, exactly what damage occurred, your efforts to resolve the problem, their offer, the developer taking photographs, and your concerns about future damage.

Your letter should be written so that a stranger understands exactly what happened, what you want, and feels sympathy for your situation. Your letter should be factual and polite (think of Miss Manners looking over your shoulder as you write).

When you write, keep in mind that you are making your case to a stranger -- because you are. Your letter(s) will be read by the attorney who represents the developer and may cause him to urge his client to make a good settlement offer. If the developer doesn't make an acceptable offer, your letter may be read by a judge. You have only one chance to make a good first impression. You always want to make a good impression on a judge. ;-)

Writing good evidence letters is one of the most important things people can do to protect their interests, but they rarely take this step. I will put a link to a page with articles about writing evidence letters, "Letters to the Stranger" and creating paper trails at the bottom of this post. Although these articles are about advocacy for children, the principles are the exactly same, regardless of the issue.

If I was in your shoes, I would CONSULT with an attorney. Consulting with an attorney is not the same as retaining an attorney. As Spruce said, the attorney may tell you that this is not worth your time, energy and/or money. Litigation is hard - it is financially and emotionally consuming.

If you decide to go forward, you will need at least one expert witness who can offer testimony / documentary evidence about the value of the tree, and any other losses you sustained. You received good advice about what kind of expert to contact.

Start creating your paper trail now - it's the most important single step you can take to protect your interests.

Take care,
Pam

Here is a link that might be useful: Paper Trails, Letter Writing & Documentation


 o
RE: How much is my destroyed oak worth?

Lori'
I found this link concerning illegally cutting trees. Im not sure if its near you but take a look. Heres some of it.Its from the WALB news.

"Georgia Forestry Commission foresters remind you that it's illegal to cut wood on private property. Even on public property, you often need permission"

Heres the link for the Georgia Forestry Commission

http://www.gfc.state.ga.us/

good luck, this stuff makes my blood boil

Here is a link that might be useful: WALB News


 o
contact link

almost the same but with the contacts. If you can get the forestry dept behind you, you may not have to pay a dime for your case.

Here is a link that might be useful: contact link.


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