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Racine woman says neighbor's willow tree is putting family's safety in jeopardy

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Racine woman says she isn't taking any chances with her grandkids after getting property damage from falling branches from a massive willow tree growing from her neighbor's backyard.

"They come back here and they want to play. Now I'm realizing that it's not even safe for them to play in my backyard anymore," Donna Smith, who lives on Luedtke Avenue, said.

Smith has lived in her home for about 20 years but the most recent round of storms is giving her some big regrets.

"It's been up there since the 27th [of August]," Smith said while pointing to a branch lodged into her garage's roof.

"I've actually reported this to my homeowner's insurance five times since 2010. And my homeowner's insurance actually dropped me," Smith said.

Now she says she is in a high risk and high cost coverage plan. She blames the issue on her next door neighbor who now rents out the property.

"I have tried to communicate with the homeowner and she is not willing to budge at all," Smith said.

The home-and-tree owner could not be reached for comment on this situation on Monday. Smith says the only way she can communicate with that person is through the current tenant.

But the city of Racine did get involved recently. According to ordinance "trees and shrubs standing in or upon...any private premises shall be kept trimmed by the owner or occupant of the property...so that the lowest branches projecting over the public street or alley provide a clearance of not less than 13 1/2 feet."

So the city cleared the alley after recent storms - but did nothing to the limbs over Smith's property.

Smith is not going to file an insurance claim for the most recent damage because she is at risk of being dropped from her 'high risk' home coverage plan. She says legal action might be the next step.


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