Trial postponement likely in Bear Yuba Land Trust tree case
A lawsuit filed by Bear Yuba Land Trust against a property owner and a tree service that alleges trespassing and damage to property within Woodpecker Wildlife Preserve on Banner Mountain — currently slated for mid-June — likely will be postponed.
The suit names Michael V. Nudelman, and seeks a judgment for compensatory damages for damage to the trees, wildlife habitat, environment and watercourse; for the benefits Nudelman allegedly received at BYLT’s expense in the form of increased views of the valley and downtown Nevada City; for lawsuit fees and costs; for an injunction prohibiting Nudelman from entering the property, from cutting down and/or removing any trees, shrubs or other vegetation and from otherwise interfering with BYLT’s use and enjoyment of the property.
Nudelman lives next to the 28.23-acre Woodpecker Preserve, one of several preserves owned by BYLT, a private, nonprofit land conservation organization.
In the lawsuit, BYLT alleges that in 2013, Nudelman asked permission to remove three fir tees that were directly blocking his view — but his request was declined.
In July 2014, BYLT field staff reportedly discovered that five large trees on the property (two Douglas fir and three incense cedar) near Nudelman’s home had been downed: four trees were cut, one additional incense cedar was knocked over, and two additional Douglas firs were scarred and knocked to the side. Among the four trees cut were the three trees that Nudelman has asked to cut down.
BYLT claims that Nudelman and/or his contractors, Crown Tree Service, cut the downed trees. All of the trunks and trimmings from the tree removal were left on the steep slope of the property. Nudelman’s actions allegedly removed trees and forest canopy, impacted wildlife habitat and the scenic view-shed, destabilized the steep slope thereby clogging the natural stream runoff route toward Little Deer Creek, creating additional sediment, and caused other waste and injury to this property.
In a cross-complaint filed in October, Nudelman alleged that the land in Woodpecker Preserve had been neglected and had been allowed to become overburdened by excessive tree growth and vegetation, much of which was dry and/or dead, causing an extreme fire hazard. The situation had diminished the value of his property, he claimed.
Nudelman also alleges that the land trust surreptitiously constructed a trail from the road that crosses his property, that a sign at the entrance to the trail invites people to trespass on his land — and that land trust members moved a survey boundary marker.
The jury trial was scheduled to start June 21, with a settlement conference set for May 23. Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven is the judge slated to hear the case, after Judge Tom Anderson recused himself and judges Scott Thomsen and Robert Tice-Raskin were challenged by attorneys in the case.
Motions having to do with attorney fees and with compelling discovery from Crown Tree Service are scheduled for Feb. 11. A case management conference is tentatively slated for the end of February in order to postpone the trial, however, reportedly because the owner of Crown Tree Service will be unavailable until May. No new date has been proposed, attorneys for the parties said.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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