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St. Pete resident allegedly stole neighbor’s trees

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

We’ve all seen the clickbait slideshows touting weird notes or other kinds of messages from neighbors. Scroll down Facebook for thirty seconds and you’re bound to run into a list of “most epic” notes from neighbors or roommates or drivers who don’t appreciate your bad parking.

Well, those have got absolutely nothing on a neighborly dispute in St. Pete where a woman is suing her neighbor for cutting down her trees while she was on vacation.

First of all, if Susan Huff really hired a tree service to remove neighbor Suzanne Bistok’s trees and shrubs, she deserves to get sued. But there’s more to the story than just a lady who doesn’t like trees.

Both women live adjacent to one another on 84th Avenue North and 15th Way. There’s no fence between the two homes based on Google Street view. One home, Bistok’s, has loads of trees. The other, Huff’s, doesn’t have very many at all.

According to Bistok, Huff either removed or had someone else remove trees from her property while she was away on vacation last year. When she returned, Bistok claims Huff introduced herself and asked Bistok to remove additional trees and shrubs. According to lawsuit documents, Bistok said the trees and shrubs were not encroaching onto Huff’s property and that she instead just considered them unsightly.

Even though Bistok refused to remove any more greenery from her property, Huff allegedly hired Jarrod Koontz, who is also named in the lawsuit, to remove more trees. Bistok immediately stopped him, but said when she left again for another vacation, she returned to even more missing trees and other foliage.

Huff allegedly defended her actions saying she was doing Bistok a favor by making her property look better.

However, Bistok claims Huff’s actions cost her afternoon shade and loss of property value.

Now, how’s that for a neighborly dispute?

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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