After a celebrity chef who owns a home in Brooklyn with solar panels was reportedly irritated that his neighbor’s seven-story high silver maple tree was blocking the sunlight, police arrested him for poisoning the tree.
As The New York Daily News reports, Adam Harvey, 33, the owner of the Gowanus restaurant Bar Salumi and a contestant on “Top Chef” in 2014, was arrested on May 15 after neighbors discovered him drilling 11 holes into the trunk of the tree on April 30; prosecutors believe a jug on the ground seen on cellphone video of Harvey contained the herbicide Roundup. A judge also barred Harvey from approaching the tree’s owner.
The tree, over 60 years old and 53 inches in diameter, is trying desperately to stay alive; half of its leaves have wilted. The owner, a retired city teacher who has lived in the house since 1992, told The Daily News, “The tree has a right to be and has a right to survive,” adding, “Why would you have solar panels and try to take down a tree? That to me is the linchpin of everything. It says a lot.” She continued, “The neighborhood is in mourning because of that tree suffering. I bought that house because there was a full-blown beautiful tree in my yard. That just blew me over. Do you know what it’s going to be like not to see a bird up there in anymore? These are the pleasures of life.”
Harvey and his wife have not moved into their home as yet; neighbors have expressed their rage at him already. One neighbor said, “He has outraged everyone in a half-mile radius.”
On April 30, Harvey was caught on a neighbor’s cellphone video sneaking into his own yard from his neighbor’s, removing a mask and gloves with a power drill connected to his house as a jug rested on the ground near him. After neighbors called 911, police came, but Harvey had already left. But neighbors said he returned after the police departed.
Another neighbor then taped Harvey using a hand drill to bore holes into the tree. Again the police were called, but Harvey had disappeared again, according to neighbors. The neighbors contacted the owner, who was not at home, then filed a complaint with police.
Prior to the incident but after he purchased his home, Harvey had reportedly given signs of his hostility toward the tree. He told the tree’s owner that the tree was dead and he could help remove it, telling neighbors that the tree blocked the solar panels on the roof. But the owner consulted an arborist, who said the tree was not dying; she sent Harvey letters attesting to the fact.
Harvey then allegedly did something outrageous; on April 6 he had a team of arborists actually go onto the neighbor’s property and saw off major limbs of the tree, according to the owner and neighbors. One neighbor commented, “It’s really hard for me to follow what he’s thinking. It’s arrogance and a wrong sense of entitlement to come here and destroy his neighbor’s property.”
Following that incident, the owner’s attorney sent Harvey a cease and desist letter.
Bravo TV (which airs “Top Chef”) wrote of Harvey, “His strong connection to his hometown of New York is evident in everything he does.”
Except for the trees.