The priciest real estate in one of the region’s wealthiest enclaves can be a dangerous place to be a tree.
A few years after Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, was penalized for cutting down 130 trees to improve the view from his Potomac, Md., estate, one of his high-powered neighbors is coming under fire for clear-cutting nearly an acre of protected land that overlooks the C&O Canal and the Potomac River.
Late last month, Montgomery County, Md., issued a $1,000 fine to Robert Stevens, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin. Federal park police have opened a criminal investigation into whether the tree-cutting in the Merry-Go-Round Farm community also violated a federal easement designed to protect the canal, the river and scenic vistas.
And environmentalists said they were enraged that another large swath of trees has been cut down.
“This is outrageous,” said Dolores Milmoe of the Audubon Naturalist Society in nearby Chevy Chase, Md. “Once again, people of great wealth feel entitled that they can just end-run the permitting process or not get permits.”
Stevens, 61, whose 2011 compensation package totaled $25.3 million, paid the county’s fine and, through his attorney, said he regretted not getting approval and will work to restore the land. After the June 29 wind storm, which damaged many of the trees on his property, Stevens hired an arborist and a landscaping company “to remove downed limbs and uprooted trees,” his attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor, said in a prepared statement.