Kailua neighbors spar over tree trimming - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kailua neighbors spar over tree trimming

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William Appleton William Appleton
Heather Shank Heather Shank
Ted Herbert Ted Herbert
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Coconut and Ironwood trees, some taller than 80 feet, once towered over William Appleton's property, until his neighbor got a court injunction to trim, prune or remove them.

"They didn't trim a single tree. They started clear-cutting my yard," Appleton said.

Appleton is a paraplegic. He said he couldn't afford to keep the trees trimmed.

Heather Shank lives next door.

"This was a life-threatening danger for my family, and we were forced to take it to court," she said.

Shank said she was at her wit's end after ten years of pleading with Appleton to trim his trees.

"This could have killed any adult or any grownup," she said, picking up a coconut that landed in her yard. "They were showering down."

Shank said falling coconuts smashed her solar panels and caused other problems.

But Appleton disputes the court's order.

"The order that they did get says that they're allowed to prune, trim and/or remove trees that are in a position to cause them bodily harm. None of my trees could," he said.

He said the trees sheltered his roof from damaging wind and rain. But another neighbor said the overgrowth created a health concern.

"They draw the rats. We have rat problems because of the palm trees," Ted Herbert said.

Appleton lives alone with four large parrots. The trees were their playground and a place to perch.

"It means everything to me because I used to watch my birds fly from tree to tree to tree," he said.

But Shank said needles from the Ironwoods clogged her drainage system and fell into her swimming pool. One day a branch snapped.

"It felt like an earthquake. It came within inches of our property line," she said.

"The Ironwoods they cut didn't come close to the property line," he said.

Ten trees were cut and seven others were trimmed. Appleton said the tree cutting was done out of spite. Shank insists it was out of desperation.

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