Man accused of cutting down neighbor's trees

February 15, 2012 8:15:10 PM PST
A man in New Jersey is accused of hiring a company to cut down more than 200 trees on his neighbor's property.

The new house on Tudor Row Terrace in Mahwah, is magnificent, an opulent mansion with sculpted gardens and, from its perch on a hilltop, majestic views.

That, sort of, is the problem.

"We were shocked, there's nothing left to say, outraged and shocked," said Debbie Cantow, next door neighbor.

Debbie Cantow owns the property next door to the new house.

Her property used to be covered with trees, but now most of it looks barren.

The owner of the house, Jay Patel, is charged with hiring someone who, on Mr. Patel's orders, cut down 221 trees on his neighbor's property.

"He didn't ask permission, they didn't give permission or authorization, it was just done and we think it was improper," said Arthur Chagaris, Cantow's attorney.

The facts in this case are not really in dispute. Mr. Patel does not deny hiring a company that turned 221 trees not on his property into essentially firewood.

So why would he do that?

"It would be clear that it would open up a panoramic view of the Ramapo Mountains. That's not to be sure that was the reason, but it's clear that it does make a better view from his backyard," said Mahwah Police Chief Jim Eapelli.

"Trees are a big part of our lifestyle, it adds a lot to our community, and we take lengths to protect them," Mahwah Mayor William Laforet said.

The trees that were cut down have been valued at a million dollars.

Mr. Patel, the owner of the house on the hill faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

No one answered the door at the house on the hill or returned our phone calls.

"It's offensive," Mayor Laforet said.

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