The actor failed to seek the appropriate permission before having around 200 trees removed from the grounds of his estate in Pound Ridge, Westchester, New York, in a move which has perplexed local residents, reports contactmusic.com.
"This is a town where money isn't an issue. What matters are good manners and caring about the community. People have been supportive of him, but I'm not sure what he was thinking," said one of his neighbours, on condition of anonymity.
Added another: "The feeling is that he acted a bit precipitously in clearing the trees. People are somewhat disappointed that he didn't follow procedure. Rather than seeking the proper channels and permits, he hired someone to cut them down. He's generally a good neighbour. It was out of character."
Gere and his wife Carey Lowell reportedly wanted the trees cleared to create a paddock for their horses, but could be fined $250 for each tree chopped down without a permit.
The actor has claimed he only cut down around 150 trees and is believed to be in negotiations with town officials to replant a number of them.