Northland Neighbors Live In Fear of Tree

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Northland family in the says that they can't even live in two-thirds of their house because of their neighbor's tree.

City officials and neighbors are demanding the property owner get rid of his rotten tree but a week later, he still hasn't. Forestry experts have told Kansas City, Missouri, officials that the entire oak tree is rotten and in danger of falling - and yet nothing's been done.

Last Friday, a massive 75 foot tree limb snapped, pulverizing Rhonda Sutphin's truck.

"I heard something and I thought someone was breaking into my house," said Sutphin, who says that she can no longer driver her truck but she say what's driving her crazy is the tree owner's response, "He's driven by but never has stopped."

Sutphin worries about her neighbors Stefanie and Dale Denney who live and sleep under the tree.

"He's gotten a bid but he doesn't like the amount of the bid, it was $4,000," said Stefanie Denney.

Her neighbors next-door have been told not to stay in the east side of the house in case the tree falls.

"We're prisoners in this end of the house.  We all live in one room, one room," said Tim Rathbun.  He says his girlfriend and two kids along with their dogs and guinea pigs are all sleeping in the living room. They only go back to the east side of the house when they have to use the bathroom.

"One person stands outside and listens in case the tree goes they can warn the person inside and tell them to come out," said Rathbun.

Stephanie Denney who rents the home where the tree stands in the 600 block of N.E. 45th Street says, "this is ridiculous. Get it out of here and let people live their lives."

FOX 4 reached the landlord, a wealth management adviser named Benaiha Bernich, by phone.  He says he's assessing the situation and will removed the tree, but when pressed him for a time-frame, he hung up.

A city spokesman says codes enforcement is issuing an emergency order giving Bernich just five days to remove the tree.  If he doesn't the city says it will explore options that include hiring a contractor to remove the tree and putting a lien on his house if Bernich doesn't pay the bill.

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