New Jersey homeowner cut down 32 of his neighbors’ trees, could cost him over $1.5 million


June 28, 2023 | 2:08 pm

This clash of conifers cuts deep.

A New Jersey homeowner cut down 32 of his neighbors’ trees along a hill in a small town to get a better view of the Manhattan skyline and now may face more than $1.5 million in fines and replacement fees , according to officials and the furious neighbor.

It broke my heart. She makes me angry. These trees take a long time to grow, said Samih Shinway, 40, of Kinnelon, who said a quarter-acre of his oaks, birches and maple trees have been cut down.

His neighbor, Grant Haber, was hit with an initial $32,000 fine per tree cut after clearing part of the leafy 7-acre property in March, forester John Linson told Tuesday.

A city ordinance also requires anyone who illegally removes a tree in Kinnelon to replace it with another of a similar or superior species.

The root of the problem is that restoring the downed trees will require building a road to the site and watering the new ones for two years, a massive undertaking estimated to cost $1.5 million, Shinway said. .

Haber will also need to factor in the price of adding land, removing invasive species and cleaning up, Shinway said.

32 of Samih Shinways has been cleaned up by its neighbor to see a better view of the New York skyline.
James Keivom
Shinways Kinnelon’s neighbor Grant Haber faces at least 32 counts of illegal tree removal and one trespassing charge.
New York Post
It broke my heart. She makes me angry. These trees take a long time to grow, Shinway said.
James Keivom

In addition to coughing up the green, the sapling slasher faces at least 32 counts of illegal tree removal and one trespassing charge, Kinnelon prosecutor Kim Kassar told The Post.

The fight centered around the firs began in early March when Shinway said he caught workers in the act of cutting down the beloved trees on his estate, which is about 35 miles west of New York City.

I heard more chainsaws in the distance, Shinway said, adding that he jumped into a four-wheeler and drove over to investigate.

He found a cemetery of chainsaw-cut conifers, ranging in age from 20 to 150 years.

I saw a landscaping truck, a dump truck-style truck, with a big, big shredder and four landscaping contractors on my property, he said. They said the owner wanted a view of the city and mountain range.

The tree-cutters had climbed a fence that clearly marked the boundary of his property, which is at the bottom of Habers’ higher-rise compound, he said.

Shinway, a forest lover who helps with the state’s forest management program, quickly called the police, who told the workers to cease and desist, he said.

This photo shows Shinway’s home before his neighbor destroyed his trees.
banker Coldwell
Shinway is a forest lover who helps with New Jersey’s woodland management program.
James Keivom
Haber could be forced to pay more than $1.5 million in fines and replacement fees, according to officials.
James Keivom

i really care [the woods]. That’s why I got so angry, she said insisting that more than 32 trees were actually cut down on his land.

Cutting down 40 trees and leaving them in ruins for no reason is madness, he raged. I just want everything replaced.

The clash of neighbors went viral earlier this week when a friend of Linson’s, Sam Glickman, tweeted about the cost of replacing trees.

[The] he probably thought he would only pay a $32,000 fine. But there is a provision that requires similar trees of the same size to be replanted, Glickman wrote in the post, which had garnered more than 3.8 million views Wednesday.

Two contractors Haber hired to cut trees could also be fined another $400,000, he said.

Glickman’s tweet drew so many people to a court hearing against Haber via Zoom Tuesday night that it reached its capacity of 100 people and the city attorney was initially unable to access.

The Kinnelon Municipal Court hearing was eventually postponed when defense attorney Matthew Meuller said he needed more time to look into the discovery of the case. It has been rescheduled for July 18th.

Contractors hired by Shinway’s neighbor to make the cut can also be fined an additional $400,000.
James Keivom

Linson declined to comment to on a full estimate of what Haber might end up owing, other than to say that Glickman’s figure was slightly exaggerated.

I can only state that 32 trees were removed without permission, Linson said.

City officials have not confirmed a total price for cutting the conifers.

Kinnelon City Attorney Kim Kassar declined to comment to The Post, citing an active criminal case.

Habers’ sprawling mansion at 72 Denise Dr. boasts an in-ground pool and is valued at $1.75 million.

Shinways’ next door residence at 62 Denise Drive, has five bedrooms with an estimated value of $1 million.

No one opened the door to Habers’ home on Wednesday.

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