A disagreement between two homeowners has turned into a hilarious Internet meme after a Fir Tree was cut in half because of complaints from an elderly neighbor.
Bharat Mistry, 56, and his family were “gutted” when his next-door neighbors called in tree surgeons to cut half the branches of the 16ft tall Fir Tree that had stood for 25 years.
The extreme act came after a year-long argument between Mistry and his neighbors Graham and Irene Lee who are both in their 70s, in the Sheffield suburb of Waterthorpe.
Bharat said that the neighbors had got on well until the Covid lockdown when the argument over the tree started.
He said that the Lee couple complained that the birds in the tree were making too much noise and making a mess of the driveway in their bungalow in Brier Close.
“It has been there for 25 years and we’d trimmed into a ball shape with an agreement with the neighbor and he has been fine about it,” Bharat said. “But recently there have been birds in the tree which you would expect at this time of the year.”
“He started off by putting black bin liners in the tree to stop the birds sitting there,” Bharat explained. “Last weekend he said he was going to get a tree surgeon to cut it down and we asked him not to but they came on Friday and did it.”
Bharat said he and his family were horrified as a group of tree surgeons chopped away their treasured fir tree, which had been part of their lawn for centuries.
“We were absolutely distraught,” he said. “We pleaded and pleaded with them not to do it, but their mind was made up. That tree was coming down. I believe he has the right to cut down anything that is overhanging onto his property.”
“But you have to ask, why after 25 years would you do that? It must have been no more than 3ft onto his land,” he said. “It is above head height, the bottom of the branches start at about 8ft. high and we have cut off the branches lower down to be amiable with them.”
“He can get his car on and off the drive with no issues,” he added. “We had asked if we could get it trimmed back and put a net in it so it would stop birds getting in, but there was no compromise with them.”
Bharat, who lives in the three-bedroom house with his wife and two daughters, said that the Lee couple were “perfectly fine” about the tree until lockdown.
He explained that Graham Lee just started to complain about the tree last March and events have gone so fast last week.
“I haven’t spoken to him since they cut it down,” he said. “We have never had any issues with them before this, we got on fine. Our children would play with their grandchildren when they were younger, we’ve always got on.”
“He started complaining about the birds making noise, but my daughter sleeps in the front bedroom and she can’t hear anything,” Bharat said. “He tried to say they have made a mess of his drive but he parks his car there and I haven’t seen any evidence of that on his car”.
“The weekend before last they said they were getting a tree surgeon to chop it down and they came out on Friday to do it,” he added. “He used to bring the bins in for us, it’s such a shame it has come to this. It is really sad to look at because the tree has been there for so long and it’s a really pretty tree.”
The tree has now become a site of curiosity for other people living in the area, and it became a tourist spot in the neighborhood.
“We’ve had a lot of people walking past to look at it, people you can just tell have come out of their way to walk their dog on a different route to have a look,” he said. “People have stopped to take pictures, there has been a lot posted on social media. You think we’d probably do the same if it was another house, but it does feel a bit like an invasion of privacy.”
On the other hand, the Lee couple has refused to give any comments regarding the issue.
Pictures of the halved tree have gone viral with the neighbors being both praised and criticized for cutting the tree.
Individuals around the neighborhood have spoken with one woman saying the area had always been “well-maintained” and looked after.
“When I saw it, I just thought “oh my god, what a shame,” a neighbor said. “It’s a lovely tree and just adds to the feature of the house and the street.”
“It’s such a shame to see it go, surely there could have been another solution if there was an issue with birds,” she added. “If they had tied it up with a net and kept it looking neat, that would have been better.”
“It’s such a lovely street, there’s lots of trees and greenery and everyone looks after them so well, it’s a shame to see it cut down,” another neighbor commented. “It just spoils the visual aspect of the street.”