Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Elm Gives Families Shades of Blues

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Elm Gives Families Shades of Blues

Article excerpt

The elm tree along the border of James and Mary Norwood's back yard in Ferguson has proved to be the hardwood from hell.

The tree, now a dead 10-foot stump, sits on their neighbor's side of the wire fence, with its roots creeping over into Norwood's yard. Neither party can agree on who owns it and who should pay for its removal. The tree has caused considerable grief already. Fallen tree limbs have caused thousands of dollars in damages to cars and houses.

And it ended up getting James Norwood arrested two weeks ago.

"This tree has been giving me the blues," said James Norwood, 41, a worker at St. Louis Auto Auction.

Ferguson inspectors want the tree removed, so they cited the Norwoods, who live in the 300 block of Plaza Avenue, and the neighbors, Stanley and Lynn Harrold, who live next door. In December, the city summoned the families to court.

The Harrolds showed up in court. The Norwoods did not. Mary Norwood said she spoke to someone in City Hall who told her they didn't have to come to court when she explained it wasn't their tree. City officials said they have no knowledge of the conversation. The court delayed hearing the case twice for the Norwoods.

After they didn't show up in court a third time, James Norwood was arrested for not answering the summons. The neighbors of 11 years will go to municipal court to settle the matter July 11.

The tree troubles began in 1994, when the Harrolds pruned the top of the tree. In 1995, storms blew the tree's limbs on all of their cars, smashing Mary Norwood's new Mustang and James Norwood's Lincoln, and damaging the Harrolds' cars. A limb put a hole in the Norwoods' roof; Stanley Harrold paid them $500 to fix it.

The two parties had agreed to remove the tree together at one point, but neither family could afford to do it at the same time the other party was willing. Finally, Stanley Harrold cut off all of the limbs, at the request of the city.

Still, the Harrolds want the Norwoods to help them get rid of the rest of the tree. …

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