Rockport neighbor pays $50,000 to settle tree cutting lawsuit

The front view of 11 Church St. owned by Southern Venture LLC and its owner Andrew Morlet who, neighbors claimed, removed part of a fence and cut 13 trees on their adjacent lot. Morlet agreed to pay $50,000 as settlement.
The front view of 11 Church St. owned by Southern Venture LLC and its owner Andrew Morlet who, neighbors claimed, removed part of a fence and cut 13 trees on their adjacent lot. Morlet agreed to pay $50,000 as settlement. Buy Photo
Posted Sept. 26, 2013, at 2:06 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — A Rockport man has agreed to pay his neighbors $50,000 for cutting down 13 of their trees and removing 40 feet of fence.

The payout settles both a lawsuit filed by Joseph and Katherine Grealish, represented by attorney Dana Strout of Rockport, against their neighbor Andrew Morlet as well as a civil complaint filed by the town against Morlet for illegally cutting down the trees.

The Rockport Police Department had issued Morlet a summons July 3, three months after the neighbors sued him in Knox County Superior Court. The state dismissed the case this week as a result of the settlement in the separate lawsuit.

The Grealish couple had originally sought $300,000 in damages against Morlet for the tree cutting and fence removal. The case was settled after it went to an alternate dispute resolution conference in Bangor on Aug. 26 before attorney Eugene Coughlin.

Morlet owns the former Rockport High School, purchasing it in 2009 for $600,000. He converted the Summer Street building into a large apartment for him as well as additional apartments that are leased.

The Grealish couple claim in the lawsuit that Morlet had asked permission two years earlier to cut down some of their trees to improve his view of Rockport Harbor. They refused his request but said that on two other occasions he had tried to hire tree cutting companies to remove their trees. The firms would not do it because of the lack of permission.

The Grealish couple also claim that a week before Christmas 2012, while they were away, Morlet had someone remove 40 feet of a 200-foot-long fence that separates their properties and had the Norway maples cut and removed. The trees were between 3 inches and 22 inches in diameter.

Morlet could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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