Residents of Sleepy Hollow fight back over ‛cedar’ trees
It was with shock and sadness that my family opened The Royal Gazette on Monday, May 31, 2021, to see that Wanda Bluefort has taken to the newspaper to gain public support in what is a private matter between the neighbours of Sleepy Hollow Drive.
The facts are as follows:
1, The trees are not Bermuda Cedar trees
2, The trees in question are Virginia cedar trees (Juniperus virginiana)
3, The species of the trees has been confirmed by a qualified agronomist
4, The species was confirmed for Mrs Bluefort (and the other homeowners) in writing prior to her Letter to the Editor
5, Mrs Bluefort and all of the homeowners received a letter and a form placed in their mailboxes on May 26, 2021, seeking their view as to whether they object or do not object to the removal of the two trees
6, The homeowners own the communal property jointly
7, A request was made at the bottom of the letter for the form to be returned by June 4, 2021 with the neighbours’ views circled
8, The purpose of this letter and form was to gain a consensus from the neighbours prior to any tree removal
9, There are still several days remaining for all of the neighbours to respond
10, Despite the claims in her letter to the RG that “I have received a letter from a party at 63 Sleepy Hollow Drive stating that the two trees left on the third playground area are an infringement of the ability of the children in Sleepy Hollow to play”, to be clear, the letter never stated that is was from the owners of 63 Sleepy Hollow Drive. The letter was signed “Concerned Neighbours”, as the letter was written as a joint effort by several owners in the neighbourhood
11, Mrs Bluefort’s contention that “she has not noticed such an infringement” fails to acknowledge the part of the aforementioned letter, which gave a clear example of at least one impediment to the use of the field, ie, that kites get stuck in the trees every Good Friday (one of which is still visible and remains in the tree from Good Friday 2021)
12, Mrs Bluefort has not returned the objection/no objection form to date to give her view, but instead as of May 25, 2021 has gone door to door to try to sway the homeowners in her direction with a petition in hand
13, Rather than return the form and avail herself of a democratic process, Mrs Bluefort instead also chose to go The Royal Gazette stating that the trees are Bermuda cedar when she was advised in writing of the agronomist’s findings that they are not Bermuda cedar. She has not refuted those findings in any way
14, It is noteworthy and relevant that Mrs Bluefort has removed two or three other species of trees in recent years from the same field without consulting the other homeowners
15, In addition, one of the Virginia cedar trees in question almost fell over during a hurricane and Mrs Bluefort chose to have it tied and anchored with ropes to keep it standing without consulting the other homeowners. Her claim that she has “paid for improvements without asking for help” or that she has “spent money to care for them” is in fact true. What she neglected to say is that the land is jointly owned and, therefore, she should do these things only after having consulted the other homeowners for their views on whether it was something that they all wanted
16, Mrs Bluefort mentions that “no one can say that these trees have been neglected in any way”. We disagree on the basis that the trees have not been pruned in many years and they are blocking the valuable water views of the other homeowners. When she speaks in her letter of the how trees “increase the value of our property”, what she fails to mention is how blocking the coveted water views actually decreases that value
17, The trees having been planted had nothing to do with “Plant a tree ’93” as they were planted many years after that campaign (therefore, including this in her letter is misleading)
18, Mrs Bluefort has provided no proof, documentary or otherwise, that she obtained the express permission of all of the homeowners at the time the trees were planted. If she did not do so, the planting of the trees should not have taken place in the first place
19, Despite her failure to gain our consensus in the past, we still chose to seek her views on this occasion and this is the end result.
Sleepy Hollow Drive is a very close community. We therefore find it ironic that despite Mrs Bluefort’s claims of being “the only person who loves my neighbourhood”, she is actually the only neighbour who chooses not to involve herself in any of the community activities. In our view, her Letter to the Editor was an attempt to sway public opinion on a private matter when she simply needed to return her written objection — as other neighbours have done — and let the democratic process run its course. We are also very concerned that she chose to publish the address of our private residence, which is a clear and unnecessary breach of our privacy.
Mrs Bluefort makes reference to Mr Goater in her letter. As the direct descendants of Mr Goater, whom she references as having planted the trees with her, we took great exception to our deceased father/grandfather being mentioned at all, as we cannot verify her claims. We were very hurt by her attempts to use his name to bolster her position, primarily because we do not believe that our father/grandfather made any agreements with Mrs Bluefort.
We have nothing in our homeownership or family historical documents indicating any agreement. We also do not believe this on the basis that when our father/grandfather was alive, we have witnessed their relationship to be less than harmonious as a result of Mrs Bluefort’s attempts to control other matters in the neighbourhood.
In closing, Mrs Bluefort has misled the public and in writing this response, we simply want to set the record straight and state the facts. Again, this is a private matter between the homeowners of Sleepy Hollow Drive and we intend to handle it as such moving forward. It is such a shame that Mrs Bluefort has chosen to potentially destroy neighbour relations in such a close-knit community in this very unnecessary and public way.
We will however, continue the democratic process that we began and continue to take the high road.
THE GOATER FAMILY