This is story about a mulberry tree and two neighbors. On one side of the fence you have Antonio Lupo, longtime homeowner and resident of 4221 Madison Street. On the other side of the fence is Cherie Siebert of 4219 Madison Street.
Last week, Lupo and his wife went before the Hyattsville City Council to complain about a mulberry tree on Siebert's front yard. Describing it as a "flagrant code violation", they complained of how the tree dropped large, juicy, berries which stain the sidewalk. Worst of all, the mulberry juice gets tracked into their home by their grandchildren, staining the carpet.
Lupo has lived in his since 1955. He said when the tree was first planted by the original owners it was much smaller and didn't bother anyone. But over the years, the tree has grown into what he calls a problem.
"The tree didn't have to get that big," said Lupo in an interview. "There must be a law where they can trim, because it really is a public nuisance."
Siebert wasn't surprised when she learned her neighbor had gone before city council to complain.
"It's this weird kind of neighborhood sitcom," said Siebert in an interview. One which she said has been going on throughout the 15 years since her family moved into the neighborhood.
Their two yards could not look more different. The Lupo's yard at looks like it was ripped from a golf course. The grass is neatly trimmed in rows, the edge is cut back neatly to accommodate the sidewalk. It is a bright yard, too, at least in the front, where there are no trees present.
On the other side of the fence is Siebert's yard. marked as a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, the yard is full of shade trees, bird baths and shrubs. Her wood plank fence is deteriorating in some areas, but on the whole the yard seems cozy and inviting, especially on a hot summer day.
Siebert seems fond of her mulberry tree. She sometimes picks the berries and uses them to garnish yogurt. It's also not the only edible fruit bearing tree in her yard. In the opposite corner of the front yard stands also a fig tree.
"Come around in mid to late July and you can just pick them," said Siebert.
Siebert said that Lupo has in the past taken to over zealous hedge trimming, frequently straying his clippers and herbicides across the property line.
Lupo said he's only trimmed plants which cross onto his property. He doesn't like vegetation growing through his fences.
But for Lupo, it seems like this is a losing battle. He said he called the city's code enforcement and was dismayed to learn that trees dropping fruit on the sidewalk is not a "flagrant code violation", much less a violation of anything else.
"I don't know what we can do," lamented Lupo. "We are tired old people."