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Outdoor hedges - Code forcing cutting

my250r11

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Feb 16, 2015
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Roswell, NM
We have it in our ordinance(so code enforcement can enforce), it is also in the State traffic code which can be enforced by the PD, that the only thing allowed in the sight triangle over 3' are traffic control items. Hedges, bushes, trees, branches hanging down, Halloween decorations, etc.....
cut them in the sight triangle, and replant or install screen or fence outside of it by getting proper permits if required in your city.
 
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JCraver

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Feb 20, 2014
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Southern IL
I had not heard of a sight triangle ordinance/law prior to this thread.

Me either, but I'm not surprised such crap exists.

Our ordinance says fences have to be 4' or lower on a street-facing side, and that trees, shrubs, or any other plant growth cannot encroach on the public way nor reduce visibility at intersections. Since I'm the lucky guy that gets to enforce it, whether or not it's reducing visibility is up to me.
 

ADAguy

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California
Too many times do I see stop signs obstructed by street trees and side walks with the bottom of adjacent tree crowns less than 80" (ADA maintenance requirement)
 
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Keystone

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Feb 23, 2010
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Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
As others have pointed out, this is a site triangle issue.

Interestingly the height concern is a zoning issue and should be handled according to zoning rules and regulations very likely not property maintenance because that entire section dealing with trees & shrubs would need to be substantially amended and very concise which would partake into zoning ordinances.

It's apparent the code department just wants this to go away. They are not demanding that you remove and or relocate the shrubs to the 10tt setback when they could become an issue, they are asking you to cut them down and let's not forget a notice of violation hasn't been issued so no legal basis for fine issuance can be sought as you have not been formally notified in writing as code and zoning would require. Can you fight it, absolutely on a few fronts but I'm just wondering how much money you really have to spend! I will tell you from my experience, once you mention lawyer to me all conversations are done and the only correspondence will be through attorneys at considerable expense per letter and billable phone call hour. Do yourself a favor, cut the hedges and move on.
 

my250r11

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Feb 16, 2015
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Roswell, NM
I will tell you from my experience, once you mention lawyer to me all conversations are done and the only correspondence will be through attorneys at considerable expense per letter and billable phone call hour.

Same here.

By the way, here if the tree or shrubs are on the the city side of the property line they will be removed by us. We will general ask the owners first even tho we don't have to and yes if they were really want to cause you issues they would have wrote a citation to see the judge.
 

VillageInspector

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Feb 9, 2010
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Dutchess County, New York, United States
I would really think long and hard before bringing an attorney into something that looks very cut and dried and against you. As I always tell people that respond with things like its been that way for however long as if its my fault for not seeing it the minute the violation occurred. I just look at them and ask " If a police officer stopped you for speeding would you respond by saying you have been speeding up and down this road for years or would you just leave it alone and comply? Same difference, just cure your violation and move on as there is nothing an attorney is going to do for you except hand you a bill for services rendered and you will still have to bring your property into compliance.
 

tmurray

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Jun 10, 2011
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NB, Canada
In Canada at least...

If the hedges were above the permitted height when the by-law came into effect, they likely cannot require your to reduce them beyond that height. Retro-activity on zoning by-laws are typically a big no-no. What you have would be a legal non-conforming use. It does not comply with the current requirements, but complied with the requirements when planted (assuming they did). Here, we own our sight triangle. this does not mean people plant things in our right of way, they do all the time. But when there is an issue, I just call works and they come out and trim it.
 

cda

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Basement
I am for compliance

Just need the specifics in writing

Minimimum requirements as some state
 

JBI

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Oct 17, 2009
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The Empire State
If I'm reading this all correct it doesn't say anything regarding "Hedge regulation". That's why I'm thinking of contacting a lawyer to see if how it's wrote would save me or not. If push comes to shove if I'm understanding everyone from earlier I'd just have to verify what the free sight requirement is, cut that section down to 3' and basically plant new hedges across inside the triangle?

Although linnrg beat me to it, I will agree that the hedge would be viewed as a living fence in this instance. It serves the same purpose as a fence and potentially obstructs the sightline at the intersection.
I also agree that hiring an attorney would not be necessary, and will likely cost you $$$ to hear what this group already told you for free.
For the uphill neighbor, if/when the runoff impacts your property, take pictures and file written complaints either hand delivered and date stamped in your presence or by certified mail. If possible pictures of the swales/ditches being created as well.
 

James Farrow

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Sep 24, 2018
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13
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GA
It's odd that no timeframes was given (you may receive a more formal notice in the mail with a required timeframes).

But where I work there is a 50' visibility triangle for all corner lots (50' from the corner point, there are some good graphics posted that show what this means). In the visibility traingle almost everything must be below 3' (established trees are the exception). But, bushes, hedges, any kind of fence, etc all must be below 3'. Its a traffic saftey issue.

Where I work this is generally complaint bases (we don't go around with measuring wheels and tape measures to all corner lots to try to find a portion of hedge slightly above 3'). Usually if somebody complains it means it is well above 3' and it's generally a vacant property (who either does not have a landscaper or the landscaper does not prune) and we just contract it out to be cut.

In cases where the property is not vacant, often people are just unaware of such rules (as many are) and generally a polite notice is enough to have them trim down the hedges.

If you don't cut them, it could mean a fine, as well as a court order to have the city cut them and bill you (even if you live on the property). I would just cut them, it's not a fight that is worth it. If the City ends up doing the work it will cost many times more than hiring a landscaper (not even counting the potential fines).
 

ADAguy

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California
Are you waiting for a traffic accident to happen? Sued for obstructed vision? Will your property insurance cover you?
 

Rick18071

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Nov 28, 2009
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Poconos/eastern PA
Flipped a house years ago that was on an overground property that was on a corner of two state roads. Took down some 30' high trees that were right on the edge and overhanging the roads and forced drivers to stick out into the road to see traffic at the stop sign. This was like this for many years. I planted a few 1' high small bushes where the trees were and the state forced me to remove them.
 

Pcinspector1

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Oct 28, 2009
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MID WEST
I had not heard of a sight triangle ordinance/law prior to this thread.

What?... you been living under a hedge somewhere?

We run into the shrubbery blocking stop signs, we will contact you by phone or letter to get you to trim. The stop sign typically is in the Right-of-Way, a invisible line that most mahomies don't know anything about.

Most city sidewalks are in this ROW and you may get a letter to fix the sidewalks if out of tolerance from your city as well as..... trim yo bushes!
 

ICE

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Jun 23, 2011
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California concrete jungle
We have planning regulation of fences that limit the height in the front 20' of am property to 42" and 6' everywhere else. Recently I became aware that if foliage creates a barrier, such as most hedges do, that foliage is limited to the same height as fences. I found this out because a building inspector wrote a correction about the hedges being too tall. No shlt...it happened.

I asked a planner and was told that if I can't pass through the foliage it is then considered a fence. That's unenforceable...well except for the victim I mentioned. People must think that we are nuts...well then, some of us are.
 
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