Krista McNallyJun 12, 2018, 10:29 pmJun 13, 2018, 2:37 pm

Muttontown man might get jail time for cutting down trees on his own property

Pericles Linardos says he’d rather go behind bars than pay a $22,500 fine

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MUTTONTOWN — One Long Islander is facing major fines and possibly jail time for not obtaining the proper permit to ax trees on his property.

Pericles Linardos is facing a $22,500 fine for not getting a permit after Superstorm Sandy to remove the trees.

"Given the choice of going to jail or giving them that money, I would rather go to jail for 15 days," Linardos said.

Linardos says he has three children in college and is not giving the village money that could go towards his children's education.

His troubles started when a tree on his property allegedly fell during Superstorm Sandy.

He says seven trees around his home were damaged by the storm. A private tree company said they had to be taken out when they came to his house on Jan. 2, 2012. They began cutting down that they determined were unsafe when the village received a call from his neighbor about the tree cutting.

Village Attorney Steven Leventhal says the village arborist and code enforcement went to the house after that call came in, and issued the summons.

In Muttontown, you have to request a permit to take down a tree that is larger than 7 inches in circumference. The trees in the village are protected, and permits are granted to take a tree down if it is a danger to the property or naturally fell to the ground. Other than that, trees cannot be taken down with a greater circumference.

"The character of this village is defined but its trees the same way the south shore is defined by its ocean beaches, and we would consider it a very serious matter if someone polluted an ocean beach. In Muttontown, we find it to be a very serious matter if a tree is taken down," Levanthal said.

In November of 2012, a letter was sent from the mayor’s office to residents specifically outlining the process for disposal of damaged or destroyed trees from the natural disaster. Although, the letter does not mention a permit.

"Didn't think anything about removing the trees because we received a letter that said basically make sure any damaged trees get brought to the curb so they can be removed," Linardos said.

Since then, there has been a five-year back-and-forth between Linardos and the village. He appealed the recent village justice court decision imposing the fine of $22,500 dollars and requesting him to replant trees to the Supreme Court Second Appellate Division.

"He has not suggested any kind of compromise," Levanthal said.

There is no word on when Linardos might actually serve any time in jail. Appeals in the case still pending.

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