LACONIA -- State Rep. Peter Varney and his wife, Elizabeth, are suing an Alton neighbor they say took down spruce tree limbs and a split rail fence along their shared property line without permission.
The complaint, filed April 5 in Belknap County Superior Court, charges that Union Telephone Company “engaged in significant and unauthorized damages to the Varney property” on April 9, 2016 by cutting branches from 24 spruce trees, denuding them from ground level to a height of 10 feet.
The branches were only cut on the side facing the utility's property, but the trees are set back several feet from the shared property line and are on the Varney's side, according to the complaint filed by their attorney, Joseph H. Driscoll IV, of Laconia.
A fence located on the property line between the two parcels was removed at the same time the branches, the suit alleges.
Attorney Driscoll is asserting a timber trespass claim against Union Telephone, which is headquartered in Madison, Wis. The Varneys have incurred financial losses due to the property damage - including both the landscaping and timber value of the damaged trees - and as such are entitled to a maximum of 10 times the market value of the damage as allowed by state law. The suit also seeks attorney fees and legal costs.
The second count of the complaint charges that Union owed the Varneys a duty of care to not damage their property and that the defendant should have known that the trees were not on its property, 133 Main St.
According to property tax records, the Varneys purchased 129 Main St. in Jan. 2001. Built in 1790, it is described as a store with an apartment that houses Lion’s Den florist shop. It is assessed for tax purposes at $362,100.
Varney, a Republican, has served in the House since 2012 and represents Belknap County District 5, which includes Alton and Gilmanton. Varney did not immediately return an email seeing comment.