Trees planted along border held to constitute a spite fence

The neighbors in the case of Game Place, Tranfield v. Arcuni-English, 215 A.3d 222 (Me. 2019), never got along with each other and quarreled when one owner cut dead limbs on his property to open up a view over the neighbor’s land. The neighbor threatened to erect a high fence to block the view, but instead hired a landscaper who installed 24 trees along the boundary line that were eight to twelve feet tall.

 

The court interpreted a Maine statute that provides that “Any fence or other structure in the nature of a fence, unnecessarily exceeding 6 feet in height, maliciously kept and maintained for the purpose of annoying the owners or occupants of adjoining property, shall be deemed a private nuisance." Me. Rev. Stat. §2801, and found the plantings to constitute a spite fence since they were more dense than needed to provide privacy and would not have been planted absent her malicious motive. The court ordered every other tree to be cut down; the remaining trees would be sufficient for privacy purposes and the others that would not have been planted but for malice would not be allowed to remain.

See also: Nuisance