Ch­ester Heights mulls new fine for prob­lem trees

Ch­ester Heights mulls new fine, penal­ties for res­i­dents

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Les­lie Krowchenko Times Cor­re­spon­dent

CH­ESTER HEIGHTS » A pos­si­ble fine of $1,000 per day and the bor­ough’s au­thor­ity to de­ter­mine which trees on one’s prop­erty should be re­moved were among the is­sues ad­dressed by home­own­ers at Mon­day night’s pub­lic hear­ing re­gard­ing the new bor­ough prop­erty main­te­nance or­di­nance.

The ex­panded ver­sion would re­place the 1991 nui­sance or­di­nance, which out­lines the remedies for grass, weeds, shrubs and trees en­croach­ing on side­walks and roads, ob­struct­ing site lines and detri­men­tal to health, safety and wel­fare. Fail­ure of res­i­dents to com­ply with the cur­rent statute could re­sult in the bor­ough com­plet­ing the needed work, as­sess­ing home­own­ers the cost of re­moval plus a $250 ser­vice charge and the vi­o­la­tor pos­si­bly be­ing ar­rested.

While the threat of hand­cuffs has been re­moved, the re­vised or­di­nance would be far more en­com­pass­ing. Although it re­tains some of the orig­i­nal re­stric­tions, the word­ing has been ex­panded to specif­i­cally ad­dress lawns higher than 10 inches, dis­eased or dan­ger­ous trees and run­ning bam­boo.

“Our goal is for res­i­dents to main­tain their prop­er­ties to pre­vent them from be­com­ing a nui­sance to oth­ers,” said Coun­cil­man Joe McIntosh. “We also want to give peo­ple a tool if bam­boo is grow­ing onto their prop­er­ties.”

The pro­posed or­di­nance ac­com­mo­dates the size of cer­tain prop­er­ties and the de­sire of the own­ers to main­tain por­tions in a nat­u­ral state. Lawns would need to be cut be­low the pre­scribed height on the front and side yards and 30 feet into the rear yard, al­low­ing the lat­ter to grad­u­ate into a meadow or wooded area.

As the name im­plies, run­ning bam­boo spreads, fail­ing to re­spect prop­erty lines and dam­ag­ing pub­lic and pri­vate land. Res­i­dents whose Pseu­dosasa prob­lem is the re­sult of a neighbor’s plant­ings would be re­quired to pro­vide the bor­ough with proof he or she has ad­vised the ad­join­ing home­owner of his ob­jec­tion to the en­croach­ment and ini­ti­ated steps for re­moval.

“We don’t want to put the bor­ough in the bam­boo po­lice busi­ness,” said bor­ough So­lic­i­tor Frank Daly. “The or­di­nance, how­ever, would give home­own­ers a tool they did not have be­fore.”

Cur­rent bam­boo own­ers would not be re­quired to re­move the plant, but would need to con­tain it within 10 feet of neigh­bor­ing prop­er­ties and 20 feet of a right of way. Should the or­di­nance be ap­proved, plant­ing or grow­ing would be pro­hib­ited.

Much of the dis­cus­sion cen­tered on the reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing dis­eased or dan­ger­ous trees. The pro­posed or­di­nance would per­mit coun­cil to ad­vise prop­erty own­ers of trees in ei­ther cat­e­gory which should be re­moved. If the work is not com­pleted within 30 days, the bor­ough would make the nec­es­sary cut.

Many of the trees are along Val­ley­brook Road and their top­pling has caused power out­ages in the area.

“The houses in my de­vel­op­ment have lost power five times in the last year,” said Greg Ch­est­nut. “We ex­pect the bor­ough to take ac­tion on that.”

The con­sen­sus was not unan­i­mous, how­ever, re­gard­ing the pa­ram­e­ters.

“I feel we are over­step­ping,” said Coun­cil­woman Marta Driscoll, whose home in on a large wooded lot. “It is an in­va­sion of peo­ple’s rights and I feel there is a bet­ter way we can do this.”

Daly also spoke about the fine, which could be levied after 30 days.

“The $1,000 is in com­pli­ance with state code,” he said. “I can guar­an­tee, how­ever, there is not a mag­is­te­rial dis­trict jus­tice who would im­pose it.”

Coun­cil will take the com­ments un­der ad­vise­ment and when re­vised, the or­di­nance will be posted on the bor­ough web­site, said pres­i­dent Su­san Clarke.

The pro­posed or­di­nance ac­com­mo­dates the size of cer­tain prop­er­ties and the de­sire of the own­ers to main­tain por­tions in a nat­u­ral state. Lawns would need to be cut be­low the pre­scribed height on the front and side yards and 30 feet into the rear yard, al­low­ing the lat­ter to grad­u­ate into a meadow or wooded area.

LES­LIE KROWCHENKO — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Dis­eased or dan­ger­ous trees, some of which could be found among the healthy ones along Val­ley­brook Road, would be sub­ject to re­moval as part of Ch­ester Heights pro­posed prop­erty main­te­nance or­di­nance.

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