AG Gansler: Anne Arundel Co. Tree Service Owner Convicted of
Cutting Dozens of Trees in Severna Park Critical Area Buffer Zone
Affected trees were not on property of co-defendants who wanted a water view
Baltimore, MD ( April 9, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that the owner of Paddy Stump Grinding, Dennis Russell Paddy, Sr., 44, of Edgewater, was convicted on three counts of critical area violations for removing and improperly cutting dozens of trees in the expanded buffer area of residences along Bellehahn Ct. in Severna Park. Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michele D. Jaklitsch sentenced Paddy to perform 80 hours of community service along with 12 months probation after granting the defendant probation before judgment.
Courtroom testimony established that more than 70 trees in diameters of up to 25 inches were completely cut or "topped" by Paddy who was hired by co-defendants Nilos and Kelly Sakellariou. The couple sought to open a clear view to the Severn River from their house and, according to testimony provided by a neighbor, "increase (their home) property value by $500,000."
The Sakellariou property is not waterfront and sits behind the two affected residential properties in the heavily wooded neighborhood. All of the properties, including the home of the co-defendants, are within critical area expanded buffer zones.
One of the impacted homeowners testified that when he was notified of the extensive tree cutting taking place on November 3, 2010, he went outside and saw Mr. Sakellariou directing the employees of the defendant. The neighbors identified the trucks, employees and equipment of the defendant as responsible for the cutting. The path of cutting was directly in line with getting the Sakellarious a view of the water.
Testimony also established that the Sakellarious had Paddy or his employees out on several occasions prior to the November date to establish a view in the other direction to the water, and that the owners later discovered that multiple trees in that section of their wooded property had also been topped or cut down. One homeowner testified that prior to the tree cutting done by the defendant, she was asked by Mrs. Sakellariou to meet her and the defendant to discuss possible cutting. The co-defendant indicated sweeping areas of trees she wanted to top or cut down to obtain better water views. The request to cut any trees was refused.
Witnesses testified that the defendant asserted that he had obtained a permit for the work done, although no permit was requested or given for any of the work, either in November or previously.
Earl Reeves, a forester with the Anne Arundel County Department of Permits and Inspections, testified that neither the defendant nor the Sakellarious ever filed any of the necessary permits which would have been required for any of the work done. Mr. Reeves also testified that no permit for this work would ever have been granted because of the extent and manner of cutting, as well as the fact that the area is within a critical area expanded buffer zone.
A trial date has not been set for co-defendants Nilos Sakellariou and Kelly Sakellariou who also face criminal charges.
The Office of the Attorney General Environmental Crimes Unit conducted this investigation upon referral from the Critical Area Commission and with the cooperation and efforts of Anne Arundel County.