July 18, 2006

Forcing the city to cut down three mature hickory trees...

Because your 3-year-old grandson is allergic to nuts.
Some cried foul because the boy’s grandmother had some political ties and had once before sought to have one of the stately trees cut down because it interfered with her pool. Others criticized the city’s decision to demand only a $1,000 donation from the family for new, “less allergenic’’ plantings to replace what might be $143,000 in city property. “It looks like the future of Milford will be concrete and chlorine,’’ said Christine Simpson, whose house faces the doomed trees....

“It’s just a shame,” said Ms. Simpson, who asserted that Mrs. Glennon’s family was “using the child thing’’ and not acting in good faith. “There are hickory trees all around the house, and it’s just the three trees over the pool she wants out,’’ Ms. Simpson said.
And don't blame the courts. It's the city. Do you think the courts should oppose the city? It's quite unlikely that they will. Isn't the best approach for the neighbors to shame Glennon by getting newspapers to run articles like this one?

Don't you think Glennon ought to move if she doesn't like the trees? Trees are immensely valuable to everyone in the neighborhood.
Mrs. Glennon ... said valuing the trees at $143,000, as one member of the tree commission did, was absurd. She said only one of the trees was there when she moved into the neighborhood four decades ago and that the other two shot up on their own. “Do you think vagabond trees are worth that?’’ she asked.
Vagabond trees! Ha.

Anyway, you'll be glad to know they've found a nut-free school for the boy to attend.

51 comments:

TWM said...

"Nutty" people like this woman can rarely be shamed, but shame, and shun, her they should.

SippicanCottage said...
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Joseph Hovsep said...

I'm with Sippican... Nut allergies tend to be really severe and life-threatening. Its not just sneezing and wheezing. Trees add a lot to a the quality of a neighborhood, but removing three trees in exchange for a kid's health/life is an eminently worthy sacrifice.

Sloanasaurus said...

I applaud the victory by the woman. According to the article the woman owns the land and the city only has an easement on it. Anytime a home owner wins a case allowing them to cut down trees on THEIR OWN PROPERTY, is a victory for all of us and for all who believe in private property. These cities strong arm home owners all the time with ridiculous rules on wetlands and trees etc...

Ann Althouse said...

My grandmother, when she was rather old, had two very large oak trees in her front yard cut down. She was tired of the acorns. I think that was wrong.

But I will support the cutting down of mulberry trees.

Nick said...

"Anyway, you'll be glad to know they've found a nut-free school for the boy to attend."

I'm not sure it qualifies as "nut free" if that family now attends.

Goesh said...

-that's alot of axe handles for 143K

tcd said...

I hope the cutting stops with the three trees on her property and doesn't spread to the other neighborhood trees. Something makes me think this will not be the end of it. And winning this case will only embolden this woman's family.
Is this nut allergy craze new or what? I don't remember anything like that when I was in grade school some twenty years ago. Or have kids devolve to be ever more fragile?

Freeman Hunt said...

But I will support the cutting down of mulberry trees.

I hate those things. They spring up all over my yard. I take special pleasure in hatcheting them to the ground and spraying Round-up on the leaves that pop back up a couple weeks later.

As for the grandmother, I have to agree with SC that anaphalactic shock is no joke, and I also agree with Sloanasaurus that whether or not I like her decision, I support the her private property rights.

chuck b. said...

Here's another interesting, more lawy article about cutting down trees. This one invokes the Monty Python-esque spectacle of little blind children running around knocking in to trees or impaling themselves on low branches--a spectacle I would certainly find very amusing.

Lawy doesn't really work does it? Leagally definitely won't work. Rulesy? Suey? (ha!) Suity? Too much like sooty.

Ann Althouse said...

"Or have kids devolve[d] to be ever more fragile?"

Maybe we're just better at saving them when they go into shock. They almost die, so now they have to be super-careful. Maybe in the past they just died, and the issue of being careful was neatly avoided.

Mary said...

"...so now they have to be super-careful."

Still doesn't explain the part about why the trees over the pool are the only ones they are worrying about.

Also, the article does not say the child went into anaphalactic shock over the hickory nuts from the trees near the pool or elsewhere on the grandmother's lawn.

It says the child is 3 and cannot be taught not to touch nuts yet.

Plus, it's a pain to maintain a pool with trees growing over it. I'd think more of the property rights victory if it had been phrased this way, no allergic grandchild needed to play a role.

J said...

Frankly, if no easement existed I'd consider pool maintenance a legitimate reason for getting rid of the trees in question. But ... While I agree she has the right to cut down trees on her property, I have a sneaking suspicion that the easement mentioned isn't something new - if you agreed to cede control of that area to the city up front, you can't just change the rules in the middle of the game unless the easement contains such a right.

"But Una Glennon, the boy’s grandmother, said that “as much as we love the trees,” getting rid of them was a matter of life and death"

If the environment at her home is that deadly for the grandson, he shouldn't be there, period. Has CPS gotten involved here yet?

"When a neighbor told the family this spring that the three trees towering over her pool are nut trees, Mrs. Glennon said, she asked the city to remove them"

I have a tough time believing this was a revelation.

I'm with TCD on the nut allergy business - does anybody here younger than mid-30s remember ANY schoolmate suffering from this allergy? I'd never even heard of it until I became a parent in the late 90s.

AJ Lynch said...

Why did I suspect granny was a Democrat?

Elizabeth said...

Why did I suspect that eventually, someone--I suspect a Republican--would turn a perfectly nice conversation partisan?

SippicanCottage said...
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SteveR said...

I just don't know how my generation ever got to adulthood. We used to use mercurachrome, eat peanuts, learn without Ritalin, ride bikes without helmuts, stay out in the sun, hang out in houses with smoking adults, and stand up on the back seat floorboard going down the highway.

Anyway if its life or death she and that kid need to be out of there, staying around reveals it to be a farce.

Simon Kenton said...

PT is a Buddhist with a sitting practice, a relatively uncompromised hammerhead, a good solid lefty, once the dearest and most beautiful of lovers, now a respectable suburban matron with a witty husband and beautiful offspring of her own. I was trying to plan the food for a Grand Canyon trip, and bitched something about how 'in my day' we just ate, and if you didn't like something, you held silence about it and found something else to eat. (I was trying to figure out how to deal with somebody's food allergy for 16 days of camping in the bottom of the Canyon.) She remarked about wheat allergies, "I've never encountered them except in middle-aged women from Boulder with a broad support network. Take away the spouse equivalent and the 'girl friends' and the allergy disappears. Or at least, you stop hearing about it."

Internet Ronin said...

While I do wonder about the landowner's true motive for cutting down the trees, I am surprised how many people believe those who say they have allergies such as this are making it up.

My sister-in-law is 45. Like the boy in the story, she and her family discovered, the hard way (anaphalactic shock), that she was highly allergic to walnuts. A couple of years later, when she was old enough to chew gum, they found out, the same hard way, that she was allergic to spearmint. That was about 40 years ago, folks. People didn't talk about it much then, but people didn't talk about most illnesses, diabetes and cancer come to mind.

A good friend, now in her 60's, is one of those people highly allergic to peanuts. 40+ years ago, not long after they got married, her husband thought it would be ok to bake some peanut butter cookies because she was sleeping in the next room. While he was busy baking, she was busy choking to death thanks to the aroma.

Once awake, she couldn't cry out, so she rolled herself off the couch, grabbing at a cocktail table, as she fell thereby making enough noise with the falling table and stuff on it to attract his attention. She was very near death by the time they got to the hospital.

AJ Lynch said...

Elizabeth- I can't help It. I saw the gist of the article and assumed granny was a DEM seeking the guvmint's intervention. Then I read the full article and said" Shazamm, I am right again.

Steve:

George Carlin has a bit where he claims "kids today wear helmets for everything but jerking off".

Mike said...

SC - I have a large honey locust that provides the shade for my backyard. Unfortunately, it's a prodigious pod producer. It's a lot of work for me, but I love the tree and the shade. However, my neighbor has complained so bitterly about it (even though I pick up her yard too) that I will be taking it down this winter.

Question: Can you suggest some of those 5-foot/year hardwoods to replace it with?

Cat said...

I lived for 5 years in a nice neighborhood that was struck with dutch elms disease. The elms arched protectively over the street were gorgeous. A real shame. However, if the kid is REALLY that allergic (and it has been documented), they have to get rid of the trees.

I agree with some other posters that it's odd that there is this huge nut allergy surge recently. Parents campaigning for "peanut butter free" school, etc. I never knew one kid with a nut allergy and never knew of kids with any allergies to anything other than hay fever. As an adult I can say the same. It is odd. I think it has more to do with the fact that people now expect the world to revolve around their child rather than teaching their kid to exist in a world with nuts or other things that may do them harm.

But maybe it's just me.

SippicanCottage said...
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Sean E said...

I'm with the nut lady here. She's got three city-owned trees dropping nuts into here yard which makes it impossible for her grandson to visit and play with her other grandkids. She will be paying for their removal and the planting of new trees. Yes there are other hickory trees around, but they are not dropping nuts in her yard where the children play.

Sure, she could move or never have her grandson over - or they could cut down three frickin' trees. They're trees, people! It's not like they're asking to have cranky ol' Missus Simpson's yappy little handbag dog put down (come on, you know she has one).

Besides, look at that picture of her with the article. Cursed not just with the name Una, but also with a ridiculously small head. Doesn't society owe her at least this much?

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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Mike said...

SC - Don't badmouth Blogger. Ann thinks it's all in our heads.

Elizabeth said...

AJ, the Republican city officials are going along. This is not a partisan thing, but as you say, you can't help it. I realize that. It's reflex, isn't it?

Elizabeth said...

stever, thanks for the lovely remembrance of my childhood.

Bissage said...

Mike(and Sip): Just a quick word of caution. Check your local code. Some municipalities have banned Poplars. Maybe the hybrids are different. I dunno.

Mike said...

Bissage - Thanks, but in a post that blogger lost, but I think SC saw, I commented that I'm not interested in a poplar. I'd like something with a broad canopy, like the locust.

Internet Ronin said...

Random Thought: If you really hate your neighbors, and the wind always blows their way, plant cottonwoods as close to the edge of your property as possible.

SippicanCottage said...
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Bissage said...

Mike: There are sprays and/or injectible hormones (such as "Snipper") that stop trees from fruiting. Maybe they'll work on your Locust tree and you can leave it be. It's worth looking into considering the considerable expense of removing the tree and the loss of shade.

That said, about the only clean, reasonably broad tree I can think of is a Shademaster Thornless Honeylocust. It'll grow fast enough but its shade is generally considered light/medium. I've been told you can shear them when they're young and they'll get a denser canopy.

I've read about Marshall's Seedless Ash but I've never seen one for sale.

Here's more information than you could possibly want.

Your tax dollars at work!

tim maguire said...

Is there a doctor here who could weigh in on whether the trees could, by dropping nuts into the swimming pool, make the pool toxic to the kid?

If that's the case, then it would make sense that the three hickory trees by the pool would be different from, and merit different treatment than, the trees not over-hanging the pool.

Seven Machos said...

If the city has an easement, the the woman doesn't necessarily have the right to keep the trees. It depends on what the easement says.

Property is a bundle of rights. Fee simple ownership is presumably what the woman has, and that's one bundle. The city's easement is another bundle. Those bundles are in conflict. Luckily, there is centuries of case law on this subject. It won't come down to the allergies. It will come down to ownership.

SippicanCottage said...
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Bissage said...

Sip: Yes, I was thinking of the Lombardy Poplars. I know they are banned around here. What I don't know is whether Mike's local authorities can be trusted to be so discriminating about "Poplars." Mike should find out ahead of time.

P.S. I've got a backyard absolutely brimming with straight Black Walnut. Sadly, it goes to firewood. Oh, well.

Bissage said...

Sip (and Mike): Let me second "Plan C." We have an October Glory that's a reasonably fast grower, getting broader and absolutely gorgeous. In fact, our next-door neighbor asked what it was and planted one a week later!

But it does put off a lot of helicopter seeds. They're called Samaras, just like the city in Iraq, I think. Go figure.

Mike said...

I've talked to the premier tree guy in town. I don't think there's any way to tame my tree. Spraying is out of the question; too big. He mentioned injectable hormones in an offhand way, but said he was unaware of anything that would work on a honey locust.

One thing I like about the locust is it's not deep shade. I think that eliminates maples. Maybe I plant another honey locust. I'll look into how fast they grow. I know I'll never see the new tree reach the size of the current specimen.

Thanks for the link, Bissage.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Another vote here for Thornless Honey Locust. We have a gorgeous 40' specimen in the front yard. It produces beautiful yellow leaves in the Fall and no pods.

And allow me to rant about Sweetgum, one to avoid at all costs. It is a nice shade tree with a lovely flame shape and pretty Fall color, but it will bombard you with nasty spiky fruits made of some indestructible matter.

We are fortunate not to have any in our yard, but sadly, they abound in our area. We've known the evil buggers to send retirees to the hospital from slipping on those fruit pods.

Sweetgum -- teenage arboreal hoodlums.

J said...
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J said...

"I am surprised how many people believe those who say they have allergies such as this are making it up"

Can't speak for everybody, but I certainly didn't mean to imply anybody was making up the allergy stuff. I'd just never heard of it until a few years ago, and since schools and airlines and such are concerned about it and didn't used to be, that suggests to those of us outside the medical profession that this sort of thing is on the increase, so what's the deal? Did the nuts mutate? Did we? Did we stop using some pesticide that controlled the problem in the past? Have we broadened the definition to include lots of people in no danger (or only remote theoretical danger) of shock, drastically increasing the number of people "affected"? I talk to people all the time now who have asthma and use an inhaler when they experience the slightest irritation of throat or lungs. By contrast, in 5th grade a kid in my class had an asthma attack that was one of the most frightening and unforgettable things I've ever seen - I honestly thought he was going to die as he desparately sucked on an inhaler trying not to suffocate. I will say in this particular case the fact that they continued to bring the grandson back to such an allegedly dangerous environment makes me skeptical.

" Unfortunately, it's a prodigious pod producer"

Don't be going to sleep around that thing.

"And allow me to rant about Sweetgum, one to avoid at all costs"

I have one in my yard. He's right - avoid at all costs.

mcg said...

Look, guys, some of you need to show a little bit more sympathy for those who are genuinely and dangerously allergic to nuts. Yes, none of us heard about this kind of thing when we were kids. Yes, it does indeed seem like there is a genuine surge in these allergies. But pining for the good old days doesn't change that.

The fact is, we really don't understand why the surge is happening! There are theories, of course. One is that we keep our environment too clean, so our immune systems don't learn to distinguish between real disease and benign things. Another is that baby formula contains extracts from peanuts that might be causing the sensitization. There are theories, anecdotal evidence, but no real answers.

If cutting down these three trees truly solves the problem for this kid---and can any of you credibly argue that's not the case?---then that's exactly what they should be able to do. It is frankly absurd to suggest that those trees are so precious that the woman ought to move out of her own house instead of cut them down.

aaron said...

I'm highly skeptical of the "nut-free" school.

Christy said...

Fast growing trees are recommended against. Apparently they are not as viable in the long run - they don't stand up to high winds and such.

Tulip poplars self-prune, which means they drop limbs regularly. Unfortunately in my yard that means they get caught in the under-canopy trees and dangle overhead -- called widow-makers by the park service. I spend hundreds of dollars every year cleaning out dead branches. (Mainly because much of it overhangs a neighbors house. Liability issues, you know?) Of course, all this is moot if you aren't going to be in the house long enough to have to deal with the tree issues yourself.

Me? I gave up my beloved convertibles once I realized the reason I was miserable all spring was because of all the allergens in the air. We all must make sacrifices.

Biff said...

@Elizabeth said...

Why did I suspect that eventually, someone--I suspect a Republican--would turn a perfectly nice conversation partisan?

Actually, perhaps the original NYT article introduced partisanship by mentioning the party affiliations of the protaganist and the mayor, while referring to Milford as a "Republican-run city."

I live on the border between Milford and a neighboring "Democrat-run" city, and I was a more than a little jarred by the injection of political affiliations into the story, as there is very little discernable difference between the two parties at the local level in this part of Connecticut. It felt like an attempt to create a little extra drama consistent with the Times's national political coverage, but it just doesn't seem to be in tune with the realities of Milford's local politics.

Local party affiliation around here seems to be much more a matter of traditional machine politics, rather than actual ideology. Both local parties seem much more interested in how to take advantage of the Kelo decision to facilitate pet projects, rather than engaging in traditional Democrat/Republican debates.

somross2 said...

What this woman meant to say, I think, is that the two trees that sprang up were "volunteer" trees - meaning they were not planted by people, but developed on their own. It's a term gardeners use. But "vagabond" certainly makes them sound less respectable!

Cedarford said...

Sean E - I'm with the nut lady here. She's got three city-owned trees dropping nuts into here yard which makes it impossible for her grandson to visit and play with her other grandkids. She will be paying for their removal and the planting of new trees. Yes there are other hickory trees around, but they are not dropping nuts in her yard where the children play.

3-year old kid was allegedly allergic (aliteration!) to cashews, which are tropical fruit of a completely different plant family than hickories and walnuts. I wonder if the CT Democratic Central Committee woman even knows if the hickory tree nuts have been tested as BEING allergenic on one of her 14 grandkids. Even if they were, does the kid have a squirrel tooth genetic mutation that allows him to gnaw into a hickory nut? The husks are so tough that even hungry pigs normally avoid them when they fall on the ground. A 3-year old has as much chance of biting into one of them as he/she does of biting through a hand grenade.

An ecosystem depends on nut trees. I would hate this trend with towns inclined to chop down every "dangerous tree" wildlife depends on, For The Children's Sake, so only "kid-safe" imported "hypoallergenic trees" are left.

My two cents says the old lady built a pool a year ago, discovered the trees she had lived with for 4 decades, out in back, drop nuts into it, tried to get permission to chop down the 80 year old stately trees. But discovered the rest of the neighbors living next to the town easement did not want the big trees cut down, and objected. She got turned down by the town by the town on that basis several months ago. Then she came up with the "Its a matter of life or death for my visiting grandchild gambit"....and because it was a ban or restriction For The Children's Sake!!! what bureaucrat could resist the gambit???

More widely, this nut ban psychosis is spreading all over the place. Schools concerned with "the kid" too stupid not to eat nuts, legumes, grains, and seafood despite knowing it's deadly have been trying to enact "nut, legume, wheat free" schools. My sister went to one of those circuses called a school board meeting in Colorado where a "zero tolerance ban" was being proposed to "Safeguard the Life" of some 7th grade bozo that had an extreme soybean, peanut, bean, and pea allergy. Which turned out was a proposed ban subject to the same "zero tolerance rule" as bringing knives or drugs in, for brownbaggers having any food with nuts, peanuts, beans, soy in it. But those products would be OK for those paying money or getting free hot lunches because a school fuctionary was to ask each student if they were allergic to anything being served at each meal.

Yes, parents could not be trusted to tell a 7th grader to not eat various stuff, other parents could not be trusted to control their kids and ban them from shoving down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich down this kids piehole, but the idiot Democrat Nanny Staters thought the whole thing was a matter of expulsions for forbidden peanut butter or tofu or beans...unless they were dished out by a government functionary (also known as a cafeteria worker) who was to query each kid on each item served "is it safe"???

Sister called the Board members who came up with this beyond stupid idea "flaming idiots". She said unless the school wished to pay for her kids hot lunches in lieu of inexpensive nutritious fare she packed - she would put whatever she pleased in her kids brownbags. Then dropped the Atom Bomb - which was a letter from her lawyer hubby that said if the measure passed and any kid was expelled or otherwise punished for "peanut, chili beans, etc." contraband, he would put liens on School Board members property and bank accounts pending a civil suit for child abuse...noting that by law, that was not something they had immunity from as Board members.

The measure failed. The Safety Nazis Its Totalitarian - But It's For The Children's Sake!! were defeated. The 7th grader was told to only eat food from his house until he got free of the "nut danger" from allergy desensitizing shots.

ds6314 said...

Hi, this seems to be a lively group. I arrived here just now searching for the Milford or Calhoun variety of Thornless Honeylocust, the pods and seeds of which, when ground into flour, are reported by Russell Smith (author of "Tree Crops") to be excellent in muffins, breads, etc. And honeylocust pods in general are great livestock food with protein concentrations equivalent to oats or barley, and documented yields up to 400 bushels per acre. It grows fast. Also, it was rated the hardiest tree in Roosevelt's shelterbelt program, hardy in almost any soil under 5000 feet, in ice, wind, etc. I grew up in Montana, and have been nursing the idea that (as an anti-global-warming tactic) those miles and miles of useless sagebrush around our old place would be mightily improved by honeylocust groves. "Improves any pasture" Smith said. At a sustainablity fair in Livingston, I passed out several dozen packets of honeylocust seeds to area ranchers, but would prefer propagating the Milford or Calhoun variety. Anyone know where they might be found?A source of seed?