Vandals target woman’s landscaping

Resident unsure why someone would cut down about 50 of her trees, shrubs
Courtney Astolfi
Dec 8, 2013


When Huron resident Pat Votino returned home from an out-of-town trip and peered into the yard she had painstakingly landscaped, she was shocked to see a peculiar — and bitingly personal — act of vandalism.

Where about 50 trees and shrubs had once stood, Votino instead found dozens of butchered stumps. It was all that remained of years of her labor.

Votino’s Ashland Avenue property is at the end of a private road, nestled between a few other houses and the Lake Erie shoreline.

When Votino poured herself a mug of coffee and peeled back her drapes after resting from her long holiday weekend, she was shocked to see numerous Arborvitae trees, a big Blue Spruce tree, lilac bushes and various other foliage in her yard snipped off at ground level.

She later found tracks where it appeared vandals used a tarp to haul the severed limbs to the shore, where they likely dumped them into the lake.

Votino filed a police report, though catching the vandals is unlikely. Huron police Chief Robert Lippert said officers are working to follow up on it as best as they can.

Still, Votino is stumped as to why she was targeted.

Votino did mention past problems with neighbors, and said some knew she was an avid gardener. There’s likely no way to prove they or anybody else are to blame, however.

There’s simply not much evidence to work with, Lippert said.

A Huron resident of 36 years, Votino is disheartened by the act.

“I do it all myself,” Votino said of her landscaping. “All my little sickly ones that I’ve been babying, they’re gone. All the hard work is all done and over with. They’re all destroyed”

Votino said each would cost about $100 at a nursery, and she’s now awaiting estimates from her insurance company on total losses.

“This was deliberate, and this was personal,” Votino said. “I have no idea why someone would cut them down except to be mean”



She said it all in the last sentence. There are so many "mean" people in the world today. So many are jealous of what others have. They don't want to work for it themselves, but don't want anyone else to have something that they don't have.


It is so crazy people try to make their home and yard look good and fools Do this dumb bs.


I'd like to know why the police aren't trying harder to catch the CRIMINALS who did this. It sounds like a personal attack and if she has had trouble with the neighbors in the past maybe they should be knocking on some doors. There's no way that much damage could be done with no one seeing anything. What happened to neighbors looking out for each other. She should put up a fence instead of trees to keep these thugs off her property.


Still, Votino is stumped as to why she was targeted. Terrible pun. too bad she didn't have surveillance cameras.


you would be amazed at what a surveillance camera can catch. People wandering through your property at 3:00 a.m. People with dogs , letting the dog do their business without cleaning it up, people checking to see if your doors are really locked ,car doors too. Its worth the investment.[ Still ,sad ,it comes to that]


One would think a chain saw would have been used. One would have thought a neighbor would have heard said chain saw and looked out their window. Hmm seems kinda fishy.

Julie R.

If the Huron cops could catch the kids that were breaking into cars, why can't they catch the more than nuts, jealous, ignorant trash adults that destroyed thousands of dollars on this lady's property?

Julie R.

Mrs. Votino said she did everything herself and now everything is gone ..... all her hard work is done and over with.

Not to worry, Mrs. Votino. If the cops don't get the sadistic d-bags, I'm sure karma will sooner or later. In the meantime, you might want to take solace in a poem by Mother Teresa.

2cents's picture

Sounds like a hit! Maybe the neighbors did not like the view of the lake blocked!


Funny you should say that?... are you her neighbor? I'm sure she bought and or built this house in 1987 for the sole reason of blocking the view for others! Also, that is a great reason to maliciously terrorize her right? The people who did this ought to be ashamed of themselves! And if her neighbors were any kind of neighbors they would be out in the spring helping her rebuild! This is insane to me!

2cents's picture

It is just an observation with possible motive !

Julie R.

Is Ashland Ave. in Grand Forest Beach?


I live on Erie a street over and Ashland and Perry are considered part of our neighborhood the are connected along the lake with a community property that we all walk on. To an on looker it appears as we are cutting thru yards but in reality it is in our deed that we have access to that land and the stairways. This is a horrible situation I am in shock someone could do such a thing. But it have seen the police out going door to door on that road and I noticed them out again today. I hope they found out who did this we live on very quiet roads and most neighbors are seasonal so I'm sure it's hard to find an eye witness but I hope they can!

Julie R.

I was wrong. I thought Ashland Ave. was about 7 or 8 streets up from Woodlands School (Grand Forest Beach) on the lake side. I found out instead it's further up, closer to First Street (Huronia Beach) and nearer to the high school.

Julie R.

If you live on Erie Street, how do you figure that Ashland and Perry are considered a part of your neighborhood? So if your deed says you have access to the property on Ashland & Perry, are you paying taxes on it? I know somebody that lives at the end of one of the streets you mentioned and their taxes went up SKY-HIGH because the auditor's office (while under the direction of Tom Paul) and the schools said THEY are the ones that own the property next to the lake. In addition, I live on a private street on the lake side but there are steps at the end of the street that go down to the lake and nobody that lives on the street (once again, it's a private street) has to go through anybody's yard to get down there, either, so I don't know where in the heck you are coming from that your deed says people that live on Erie Street have access to the property and stairways on Ashland Ave. & Perry Street.


I really don't care for you tone or attitude but when I pay over $700 dollars a year in association fees and upkeep for all 3 roads as my deed states and everyone in our 3 roads do. And if it concerns you so much take a drive over and see where our stairs are. And the people Ashland have access to our road. It's people like you that think you know everything about the town that know everything.


Also take a look at the tax map below and see just where the property lines are. Our 3 roads are connected along the lake. Also I understand you don't want people in your yard and neither do I that's I have a German Shepard sitting in my front yard and to be honest no one comes on my property. I've meet every neighbor that lives along the lake and the only one that thinks she owns anything is at the end of erie and everyone got together and paid for a survey and a lawyer to fix things. If one of the neighbors were going to vandalize property it would have been hers. She thinks she owns everything and the only thing anyone can be happy about is that her husband that was a sex offender passed away and made the neighborhood safer


I used to live in that neighborhood, just moved a couple years ago, and I don't know of any active association that covers Ashland. If there is an association it must be for the other streets. The only association I ever heard of became inactive back in the 60's, LONG before anyone that currently resides on that street owned their homes. I know that both Mrs. Votino and Dr. Novotony paid for and maintain the stairs on their property and although no one has ever contributed to the maintenance of these stairs or the lakefront area itself, they have always been generous in sharing access to both. Who is the president if this association, how much are the dues and what do they cover. I'm sure this information would be helpful for her in getting her property repaired. And to 2cents, if the people living there are so concerned about a lake view maybe they should consider buying lakefront property.

2cents's picture

huron, it was just an observation and theory. My comment was never more that that, I would not condone what took place, it is sad what people are capable of in this me/me world today!

"HURON, Ohio– An act of vandalism has a Huron woman literally stumped. Police confirm dozens of her trees and shrubs were cut to the ground over the Thanksgiving holiday. VIDEO

"Votino said each would cost about $100 at a nursery, and she’s now awaiting estimates from her insurance company on total losses."

More like thousands of dollars for a single large blue spruce. The cost of the tree plus the planting with a hydraulic tree spade.
Check the Pictometry views from various angles and also from additional satellite views. I would have to say one or more of the neighbors did it.
I doubt that the Huron, Ohio police will put in much effort to find the vandals.


I just took the time to drive down Ashland Ave to view the damage and try to understand all off your comments. First off I own lake front property in another Ohio town. So I am very well aware of the legislation.I am the Treasurer of our Association. Our Association has a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. We have monthly meetings. We have annual fees that are paid. We are required to be licensed bonded and insured. With that being said the association should cover Mrs. Votino's damage. I would find out who the President of the association is and have them handle this matter. Janalee seems to know who the President is and all about the association. I think she should contact Mrs. Votino with that information. I certainly think she could call the Huron Police department and give them all the information she has on who the association insurance company is. Who the board members a are. Seems like the neighborly thing to do. Also Im confussed on the associactions property? The majority of the damage I noticed was along Ashland and along the side of her house. Does the association own her entire yard? It's a shame that "neighbors" in such a nice town like Huron have to be so mean to one another. Why not come together and enjoy life. If that would have happend in my lake front community every single neighbor would have been out there the next day cleaning up the destruction and lending a hand in some way. Shame on you Ashland Ave Association!!


I spoke with the police the day I found out and they told me they have the association information. Also I have a family a job and better things to do I'm not helping clean up someone's yard. I understand some of you may find it the neighborly thing to do but I personally wave at my neighbors and have not much more to do with them. The land the association owns is about 25 feet along the shore along all 3 roads. They also own the boulivard. I also let the police know that I noticed the trees down Wednesday evening when I was out running.

Julie R.

Aren't association fees usually reserved for condos? I live on a private street in Huron ---- in fact, all of the streets on this side are private but nobody pays association fees. When our street had to be repaved about 9 years ago, all the people on the street chipped in and paid for it. Same with the next street over. Their street was done two years ago and I assume it was done the same way --- everybody on the street paid for it.

Also, my mother and stepfather lived in Huronia Beach for 45 years. Huronia Beach (Superior and First St.) is right next to Perry, Ashland Ave. and Erie, but I'm absolutely positive that they never paid any association fees in all the years they lived there. I also know of quite a few people that live along the lake in Huronia Beach. I sure would hate to see what would happen if anybody ever went through their property to get down to the beach. In fact, seems to me I heard of a big commotion about that around five or six years ago. Some people tried to do it and they had the cops called on them.

Janalee says (quote) there's a neighbor that lives along the lake on her street (Erie) who thinks she owns everything, so everyone got together and paid for a survey and a lawyer to fix things.

All I can say for that is ---- if your neighbor is the one that's paying the taxes on it, then she does own it, so maybe you could tell us how the lawyer you and your neighbors hired "fixed" that?


I'm fact associations are every where that shows how little knowledge you have. Wexford and Eagle Crest have associations. We are currently in the process of purchasing a home in Edison Ridge and they have an association. I think our association is worthless or they would make people maintain there property. And again they do not pay taxes on the property. I've even asked a few of them. The lady along the lake said she would put up a fence on property that is the associations everyone hired a lawyer and they informed her that she had no right to do that and the city wouldn't approve a permit and if she proceeded everyone in the neighborhood would be taking her to court. It would also take away from our property value. That is common area. I'm thrilled to move out of this area. Her calling the news paper and fox 8 has caused nothing but unnecessary traffic on our "private" roads. I understand she's upset and I would be too but this isn't winning anyone over on our streets.

Julie R.

You said the lady along the lake threatened to put a fence on the property that belongs to the association ... etc., etc. ....... and the city wouldn't approve a permit.

So if the association owns the property, is the association paying the taxes on it? That should be a matter of public record. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Huron's building inspector ~ who would be the one to issue or not issue a permit ~ live on Ashland Ave. or one of those streets?

Julie R.

Hey janalee, who told you & your neigbors that somebody putting a fence up would lower the property values of everybody on the street? A stupid lawyer? If so, considering how a former auditor (incidentally, from Huron, Ohio) allowed ATTORNEYS to fraudulently transfer my mother's half to property in Huronia Beach (only a few streets up from your street) seven months before her death ..... and the dirty courts, knowing the property couldn't be sold through normal channels after my stepfather's death unless the fraud on my mother's half was acknowledged so the property could be put back into her probate estate and sold with a clear title, pulled off a scam by forcing the property with serious defects in the title to be sold at a sheriff sale under a scam partition action and a fraud preliminary judicial report to a realtor (and others they think I don't know about) to use as RENTAL property, I would have to say whoever the idiot lawyer is that told you & your neigbors that crap is a joke.

It's RENTAL properties that lower property values, not FENCES.


She wanted to put the fence up on everyone's common property...which is the property owned by the association which is included in our property deeds that we have access to. So yes to block off property that I have access too and she doesn't own or pay taxes on will lower my property value. It's a fairly easy concept I don't understand what your having trouble understanding here if someone puts a fence up and blocks off property I have access to and I won't have the "beach rights" that are in my deed it will lower my value.

And what does rental property have to do with any of this? And what does the property of your mothers have to do with this? And if you had those issues maybe you should have hired a GOOD lawyer! I don't deal with cheap lawyers or idiot lawyers (as your previous comment stated).

Julie R.

So what exactly are you trying to say? That because some woman wanted to put a fence up around her property and some idiot lawyer said it would take away from property values, that meant dirt-bags had the right to vandalize the woman's property? If so, maybe your neighbors a couple of streets over should do the same thing to the properties of the corrupt Erie County public officials that were responsible for lowering their property values --- like a former auditor that allowed attorneys to fraudulently transfer my elderly mother's property seven months before her death on a forged power of attorney concealed in the Lorain County recorder causing serious defects in the title ....... and the former recorder that knowingly filed fraud documents that falsely stated the forged power of attorney was on file in the Erie County recorder ...... and the 2 joke courts on the 2nd floor of the Erie County courthouse that pulled off an illegal scam by forcing fraudulently transferred property to be sold at a sheriff sale under a fraud preliminary judicial report that falsely stated there were no defects in the title to a realtor (and others) to use as rental property.

As for "good" laywers --- what do you consider a "good" lawyer? The ones that are into fraud and crimes against the elderly? Those aren't good lawyers --- those are evil snakes. (I call them clones of your Erie County public officials)

You also didn't answer my question ---- doesn't Huron's building inspector live in your neighborhood?


I don't know about the building inspector he may live on Ashland I haven't meet everyone on that road and I don't care to. Also she wanted to put a fence up on property that is not her's. I don't understand what you don't get. I can't say it in any easier terms. It isn't her property so she can't put a fence up.

Julie R.

I don't know if it's the same person or not, but public records show a Pat Votino from Huron is 75 years old. If that's true, I would have to say the property values on Ashland Ave., Erie and Perry Street sure have sunk to a low-level now. Who in the heck would ever want to live on a street with vicious low-lifes that would vandalize anybody's property, much less the pride & joy property of an elderly woman!


It doesn't matter to me how old she is our home is going on the market next week and we are closing on our new home next week as well. We are so happy to move out of a town filled with nothing but drama