February 2, 2018

The Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Hon. Joseph C. Pastoressa) has dismissed an action claiming the violation of a restrictive covenant in Birch Tree Partners v. Windsor Digital Studio, Index No. 10-1350.   The action involved the interpretation of a 1956 covenant that restricted a strip of land by prohibiting the erection of any “building or structure” and by restricting the removal of desirable trees or vegetation.   One question resolved by the court was whether a fence was a building or structure, and the court found that, under the circumstances, the terms were meant to apply to buildings like those that existed in 1956, rather than to a mere fence.  The other question resolved was how to interpret the concept of “desirable” trees.  The court found that the purpose of the covenant was to maintain a “screen” between the properties and further concluded that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant violated the covenant when it removed older trees that were no longer serving as an effective screen between the properties.