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Mr. T Playing Lumberjack; Neighbor Upset by Tree-Felling

May 21, 1987 GMT

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) _ The burly Mr. T, who annoyed his neighbors when he put up a stockade-like fence around his house, now has taken a chainsaw to his trees.

That does not sit well with some members of this wealthy Chicago suburb, which happens to be named after its trees.

″I believe a man’s home is his castle, but if Mr. T does not like trees he chose the wrong town to move to,″ said Carl Kitzerow, Mr. T’s neighbor directly to the north. ″If this is an indication of what kind of neighbor he’s going to be, I’d just as soon he moved out.″

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Kitzerow said he has not ventured next door to confront his Mohawk-wearing neighbor, but he has taken up the matter with the City Council.

Earlier, the Council stopped Mr. T from topping his gate with a large, iron ″T’s″ logo. The star of the NBC action show, ″The A-Team,″ moved to his four-acre estate last fall.

Mr. T, who was born Lawrence Tureaud, could not be reached for comment by telephone because he has no telephone listing in the Chicago area. His accountant and spokesman, Lawrence Soldinger of Chicago, said Thursday he had not heard from his client since the tree dispute surfaced.

Kitzerow said Mr. T’s property was a virtual nature preserve, with 100- year-old firs and hardwood trees, before someone cranked up the chainsaw about 1 1/2 weeks ago.

Kitzerow said he is now ″looking out on a vast wasteland,″ from his second-story window.

″He is cutting down just about every living tree, bush and evergreen on his property,″ Kitzerow said in a telephone interview Wednesday night. ″What’s taken God and nature a hundred years or more to create, he’s taken about a week and a half to destroy.″

Approximately 75 percent of the 100 or more trees have been leveled, some by Mr. T himself, according to Kitzerow.

Other neighbors contacted by The Associated Press refused to discuss the trees. But a local newspaper, the weekly Lake Forest-Highland Park News-Voice, took a firm stand in a cutting editorial Wednesday. Editor William Rentschler called the tree-cutting ″an act of butchery.″

The News-Voice reported that a man at Mr. T’s house who identified himself as the actor’s brother said the trees were being cut because Mr. T was allergic to them. Kitzerow said the City Council told him the same thing.

Soldinger said he did not know whether the actor was allergic to trees and could not confirm that Mr. T has a brother.

Lake Forest Mayor Marshall Strenger downplayed the dispute.

″We’ve had some people wonder what he’s doing,″ Strenger said. ″My understanding is that he’s planning to re-landscape.″