Maspeth Homeowners Issued A Violation After Sidewalk Tree Fell On Newly Renovated Home, Damaged Roof

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Trees were toppled in Queens during and after Tropical Storm Isaias, and some residents are furious because they say they’ve complained to the city about some of those trees for years.

A sidewalk tree came down on the roof of a home on Maspeth Avenue in Queens as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias. (Photo provided)

Tarp covers the damaged roof of a home on Maspeth Avenue after a sidewalk tree fell on top of it.

The tree has been cleaned up, but not by the city. Even more perplexing, the homeowners were issued a violation.

An 11-year-old boy was in the room below where the tree fell.

“And I see the tree was falling,” the boy said.

Thankfully, everyone inside was OK, but homeowner Sophia Warchol says this could have been prevented.

“It’s so evident that that tree was dead for years,” Warchol told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.

She says she’s called 311 to report the tree many times.

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After it fell, the city didn’t seem to be responding to that immediately either.

“Then we got a private person to come in, and they removed it last Saturday, the trees,” Warchol said.

It cost thousands of dollars, not to mention thousands more to repair the roof on the newly renovated home.

Adding to the frustration, the department of buildings issued them a violation, stating the structure is non-compliant, referring to the tree that caused the damage as a private tree.

“It’s certainly a street tree. It’s over a hundred years old, like many of them, and it was diseased,” Queens Councilman Robert Holden said.

The councilman says the tree belongs to the city, and he’s received numerous calls from constituents with the same issue, trees that fell despite being reported.

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“They don’t have the equipment, they don’t have the personnel, they don’t have the people to maintain the trees, to prune them properly, so this is what happens,” Holden said. “Then to go around after a storm and leave the tree on the building, on their homes for a week or more, and then summons them on top of that, it’s a joke, it’s terrible.”

In a statement late Friday night, the New York City Parks Department told CBS2, “Trees located at this address have had multiple inspections resulting in good condition reports in 2015, 2017 and 2020. Per our inspections, the trees at this location were not a threat to public safety/rotting/in poor health.”

The department also said they received more than 21,000 service requests citywide in three days after Tropical Storm Isaias. That is second only to the number of service requests after Superstorm Sandy.

Holden says the City Council plans to hold hearings on storm response by city agencies. There’s great worry if something isn’t done about these trees soon, people, not property, could be harmed.

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