Homeowners worry tree could cause damage

September 17, 2012 3:52:13 PM PDT
After last summer's drought, there are thousands of dead trees all around our area. But one of them is of particular concern to a homeowner in northeast Harris County.

This tree survived the drought, but a lightning strike has caused major damage. Now the family that lives on the plot next door is worried the tree will cause major trouble, but can't seem to get it removed.

Dead trees are easy to spot across our area, especially if one is next door to your home.

Debra Jackson said, "It looks like, I don't know if it is lightning or something, the tree is beginning to die from the top and it is rotten and splitting."

Debra and Calvin Jackson say they want the tree removed, so they tried to contact the property owner.

Debra said, "I looked up and found the property is owned by the Sheldon ISD. I called the district and they referred me to an attorney's office because the lot is up for resale."

But Debra says instead of getting the tree removed, the call led to frustration.

She said, "Basically they said they don't have anything as far as maintenance or upkeep or things to do. Basically they were for selling the property, that's it."

So we called Sheldon ISD and officials told us the taxing district controls the property. Officials there referred us to an attorney, who has yet to return our calls.

It turns out the Jacksons did the right thing when it comes to getting the tree taken care of -- they contacted the owner to tell them of the problem.

According to University of Houston law professor Richard Alderman, now that the problem is known by the owner, it's the owner of the tree who pays if there is a problem.

"Usually the property owner knows all this is based on the owner knowing that the tree might fall," Alderman said. "You want to make sure that you do take steps."

In the meantime, the Jacksons are waiting for the tree to be removed.

"The tree needs to come down, but no one wants to take responsibility for it," Calvin said.

The Sheldon ISD says they are looking into the situation. The next step for the homeowners would be to send the district a certified letter acknowledging that the district knows about the problem. That way if the tree does cause damage, the district can't claim it did know about the issue.


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