Candia, NH stuck with a $10K bill for legal fees over a crabapple tree

The town of Candia will have to pay nearly $10,000 in legal fees when a couple sued the town after it declared their crabapple tree a public nuisance.

Dustin and Jennifer Heiberg sued a year ago in 2020 after town officials complained that branches were extending into the roadway and creating a hazard for passing vehicles. The Heibergs argued that the branches weren’t a problem and that town officials had singled out their tree and were harassing them. The couple also questioned whether the road was public.

“I have lived in Candia for 10 years. The tree was here when I purchased the house. Only the town knows why they chose to single out and aggressively pursue one branch on one tree in a town that is 30 square miles,” Jennifer Heiberg said on January 4th.

To date, the town has spent $9,923 on legal fees to fight the tree dispute, according to figures released by Donna Becker, Candia’s payroll and accounting specialist. The town is still awaiting a legal bill from December.

Under the agreement, the Heibergs will pay for a certified arborist to prune the tree to remove any branches encroaching on the roadway. They must also acknowledge that Jane Drive is, in fact, a public street maintained by the town.

A county forester who inspected the tree in January 2020 found that it was healthy and that while some of the branches had begun to encroach on the road, he felt it posed a minimal danger to the traveling public.