Tree trouble in Dumont

Seven On Your Side
May 24, 2013 2:39:50 PM PDT
A New Jersey man bought a house and chopped a tree down he thought was on his property, but turns out it wasn't, and when the town saw it gone, sent him a whopper of a bill in the thousands for robbing residents of shade and oxygen.

"It was dead. It was dangerous. There's a branch that was hanging," Winston Ang explained.

The decision to cut it may cost him. Last winter the Borough of Dumont billed him more than $4,400 to replace it.

"I think it's outrageous. I was shocked," he said.

Dumont reps say the tree, once in the middle of Winston's front yard, was actually on town property.

Winston says before he had the tree cut down he called the Dumont Department of Buildings to ask what the rules were. And he says he was told if the tree's on his property he doesn't need a permit.

Since he didn't get a permit , he got in big trouble. We found no tree rules on the towns website, so we asked the head of Dumont's Shade Tree Commission.

Ray Slaman says Winston should've measured 25 feet from the center of the street to find the boundary.

The Commissioner said Winston should've dug up his land survey and tried to find the boundary there.

"Ok, this is 11.85 feet - well about 12 feet. It's hard to read on this map," Slaman said, examining the survey.

We're told next week the Dumont officials will vote to adopt a tree permitting plan. In the meantime, volunteers planted a new public tree in Winston's yard.

And that bill for 4k to pay for the value of the old tree? The borough pruned more than 3 grand off it.