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Timber: Archdale couple and elementary school in a dispute over trees

The most dangerous tree may be a dead one. It can topple over and damage whatever it falls on. So, what happens when it's cut? In this case, nothing.

ARCHDALE, N.C. — To say Joe and Rae Love-Martin are creatures of habit, may be a bit of an understatement. The couple has lived in the same house in Archdale for more than 50 years.

“We love the house and we love our neighbors,” Rae Love-Martin said.

When the couple first bought the home, their son was just four years old. The home backs up against an elementary school.

“I could just watch him walk to school,” Rae said.

More than 40 years later, the relationship between the school and the Love-Martins is no longer simple. The neighbors share a property line and some issues have become rather contentious.

“Those trees were right behind our buildings and they were dead,” Rae said.

A grove of trees separates the two properties but most of the trees are on the schools’ side of the property line. Last year, the Love-Martins asked the school and the district to cut them down before one of them fell on the storage sheds.

“They didn’t do anything until (News 2) called,” Rae said.

It’s not clear how long the trees were left standing after the Love-Martins notified the school, but they were cut down late last year. The problem for the Love-Martins is that the school left the cut trees and dead branches in the grove.

“It was very depressing. When I would look out my window that was all I’d see,” Rae said.

The Love-Martins said they had kept that area clear of brush and debris for several years and even spent more than $2,000 earlier that year to have a landscaper clean up the area at the edge of their property.

The couple again reached out to the school and the district and asked if it could remove the yard debris and cut trees that were now laying on the ground. Rae said the school always told her it didn’t have the money to do that.

We again reached out to the school district about the trees to see if anything could be done. A spokesperson told us the district would investigate and it would get back to us. A couple of weeks later, the district decided the trees were not a problem and chose to leave them on the ground.

We then contacted Randolph County to see if any code ordinance was being broken. A representative with the county told us it is not a violation that code enforcement would get involved in. The Love-Martins are, however, able to go to small claims court to try and get the property cleaned up.

Instead, the Love-Martins chose to have a fence company come out and put up an eight-foot-high fence to block the view.

“At least I don’t have to look at it anymore,” Rae said.

The family doesn’t go back in that area much anymore but did go look at it recently. Apparently, the school or district decided to clean up.

“It looks like the trees are gone,” Rae said. “I just appreciate so much that you called (the school district) because they did not react when we called.”

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