A Menemsha resident who sued her neighbors for alleged illegal tree cutting on her property has agreed upon a $2.5 million settlement.
In the original complaint, filed with the Dukes County Superior Court in February of last year by her attorneys, Martha Cottle, trustee of the Cottle Family Realty Trust, claimed that more than 100 trees were illegally cut down on her property at the direction of Beach Plum Inn owners Robert and Sarah Nixon in 2019.
The lawsuit alleged that Swordfish Enterprises LLC and its principals, the Nixons, were “without license, and negligently, or willfully cut down, carried away, girdled, and otherwise destroyed the trees, timber, wood, or underwood” on Cottle’s property for the purpose of enhancing their water view of Menemsha Harbor, Menemsha Pond, and Menemsha Bight, and to increase the value of their real estate.
It argued that the Nixons’ “unauthorized environmental destruction of the Cottle property wreaked havoc and devastation akin to a war zone,” which took place within an approximate one-half acre on the Cottle Chilmark property.
According to the suit, around 136 trees, which included beech, oak, and locust trees located on Cottle property, were chopped down by Erick Taylor of Connecticut at the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Nixon.
All three were named as defendants.
In their filed response to the lawsuit, both the Nixons and Taylor deny clear-cutting the trees on Cottle’s property, and reject the allegation that they were responsible for harming the Cottle trees or land.
Estimated costs for repairing the damage and replacing the cleared trees, which had been provided by Donaroma’s Nursery and Landscape Services and included in Cottle’s original complaint, stated that the three-phase restoration project could cost as much as $3.63 million.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports that in September, following successful mediation, the parties agreed that Cottle would receive $2.5 million, with Swordfish contributing $1.5 million to the settlement, and Taylor’s insurer covering $1 million.