The Hawkins Heights residents agree that 10 of the offending tree must come down
A long-running legal dispute among neighbors over view-obstructing tall trees in southwest Eugene is over.
The two sides reached a settlement earlier this week that requires two homeowners to cut down at their expense about half of the 23 trees that were at issue in the case.
Following a 2½-day trial in February, Lane County Circuit Judge Mustafa Kasubhai had ruled that homeowners Jeff Bauer and Tom Heyler violated a Hawkins Heights subdivision covenant — unique in Eugene — that prohibits owners from allowing trees and shrubbery to “unreasonably interfere with the view from other lots.”
The neighborhood is south of West 18th Avenue and east of Bailey Hill Road.
Heyler had attempted to exempt his property from the view covenant by securing signatures from surrounding homeowners. But Heyler said he decided that the cost wasn't worth the fight.
"We did what we had to do," said Heyler, who estimated that he and Bauer have incurred a total of about $60,000 in legal fees.
Heyler said he's glad the case is over but other than that, "I have no good things to say about it."
Todd Johnston, the lawyer for the uphill neighbors, said they appreciated "all of the court’s effort in analyzing this issue and are obviously happy with the result."
He declined further comment.
Uphill homeowners had brought the lawsuit early last year after they said their efforts to get their downhill neighbors to comply with the convenant were unsuccessful. The plaintiffs in the case were Frederick and Diana Koors, Carol Philips, Svend and Lois Toftemark, and John and Glenda Van Geem.
Following the verdict, the neighbors were unable to reach an agreement, and it had appeared that Kasubhai may have to settle the matter. But ahead of a Tuesday court hearing, the two sides settled the case.
Under the agreement, Bauer and Heyler will have to remove 10 of the 23 trees on their properties. Bauer and Heyler must each cut down three trees by Nov. 1. In addition, Bauer must remove four additional trees by Feb. 1.
No attorney fees were awarded to either party under the settlement.
Residents Barbara West and Aurora Fiorintina also are defendants in the case. The judge ruled that the one tree on their rental property didn’t violate the view covenant, but they haven’t been dismissed as defendants.