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Homeowners: NYC Planting Trees Despite Objections

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Your neighborhood might be getting greener as the city continues its program to plant 1 million trees.

But as CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reported, some homeowners don’t want the trees, and despite their objections the city plants them anyway.

“I said ‘please I don’t need another tree, I’ve already had one car wrecked with it'” but the city planted one anyway in front of Steven Buchholz’s home on 120th Street in Bayside, Queens.

Buchholz soured on trees after one, also planted by the city, fell over and totaled his car. But the city wouldn’t budge and neither would Buchholz, who was arrested after blocking crews from planting another one.

“I was thinking I was going to go to jail for not letting them plant a tree,” he said. “It’s absurd, I mean, it really is absurd.”

The trees are planted curbside on city property, but it’s the homeowners who end up taking care of them, DuBois reported.

“Just because they have the right, doesn’t mean it’s right,” said Rockaway resident Theresa Sutterlin.

Sutterlin said she had just spent $5,000 fixing a cracked sidewalk, only to have it ripped apart so the city could plant a tree. She too tried to fight the planting.

“There was nothing that anyone could do. I was getting the tree, and that was it,” she said.

Sutterlin said seven neighbors also tried to block the planting of trees, citing sidewalks damaged by roots. But the city planted anyway.

“We all got together on the block and fought a good fight and we lost,” she said.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said the Parks Department should consult first with homeowners, and he has a bill the would require them to do so.

“For any agency to dictate is just wrong,” he said. “This is a no-brainer. The Parks Department should want to engage the community.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped short of endorsing the legislation.

“I want to see the bill before I comment, but I certainly want to make sure we’re doing everything that we can do to communicate with homeowners,” the mayor said.

As for Buchholz, he said he’s glad he did battle, even though he knew he would lose the war.

The Parks Department was not willing to speak with DuBois on camera. In a statement, they said they are willing to consider suggestions from homeowners, but that allowing residents to opt out of the program would reduce its environmental effectiveness.

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