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N.J. Man Fighting To Have Trees Replaced After DOT Cut Them Down

MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey man says the state bulldozed his trees, and now he's in a battle to get them replaced.

Fred Azimi, of Montgomery Township showed CBS2's Meg Baker his front lawn Thursday, where he said there used to be 50 to 60 trees. But now, it's left bare after a New Jersey Department of Transportation road project on Route 206 wiped out all of the foliage on the easement portion of his property.

"The trees been here probably 50 years or longer," he said.

Azimi said he used to have a whole line of privacy trees, but now there are only two left.

He said the lush landscape enhanced his property – not only acting as a privacy barrier, but also suppressing some of the sound from the busy road.

"Reduces noise pollution and clean the air," he said.

Azimi said the trees came down in September 2017 and he was given a plan to plant 18 Evergreen trees for the 18 the DOT said he lost. But he claims that's only a third of what was there, and he wanted a mix of trees to make it look like it did before.

"We gave them the permission, and then they came back they said, 'OK we're going to put the few Evergreen.' I asked him, 'Can you put maybe just a different kind of tree, just like it was before?' They said, 'no,'" he said.

It's been a stalemate ever since. Baker spoke with DOT spokesman Stephen Schapiro over the phone, who said, "while we have no obligation to replace the trees, because they were on our property, to be a good neighbor, we offered to plant trees on the property itself."

After saying the case was closed, the state now says the ball is back in Azimi's court – to sign the agreement to take it or leave it on the 18 Evergreens. Azimi said he will accept the 18 trees, but will fight more and may consider legal action.

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