Board may man­date tree trim­ming above side­walks

New rule could force res­i­dents to trim to 8 feet above side­walks

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Dan Sokil dsokil@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @dan­sokil on Twit­ter Hatfield’s com­mis­sion­ers next meet at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing, 1950 School Road. For more in­for­ma­tion or meet­ing agen­das and ma­te­ri­als visit www. Hatfield

Town­ship of­fi­cials are start­ing talks on whether Hatfield should re­quire that trees be trimmed over and around side­walks.

“What we’re sim­ply rec­om­mend­ing that the board con­sider at next month’s meet­ing, is to amend our or­di­nance to pro­hibit the growth of trees or any other type of veg­e­ta­tion along the side­walks,” said Town­ship Man­ager Aaron Bi­bro.

The new code is meant to en­sure that “when peo­ple are out walk­ing, they’re able to walk through the side­walks safely, with­out hav­ing some of the growth from the branches hang­ing over them, or im­ped­ing the walk­way,” Bi­bro said.

The pro­posed or­di­nance was sug­gested by staff in the town­ship’s code en­force­ment and po­lice de­part­ments, Bi­bro told the board dur­ing their Aug. 23 meet­ing, and would re­quire that prop­erty own­ers clear any veg­e­ta­tion above a side­walk or road­way to a set height limit.

“What this or­di­nance would say is sim­ply that you need to main­tain a clear­ance of 8 feet (tall) on side­walks — I don’t think we have any­body taller than 8 feet in Hatfield — and 14 feet on the road, which clears the ma­jor­ity, if not all, of the ve­hi­cles that are com­ing down the pub­lic streets,” Bi­bro said.

En­force­ment of the new code would be han­dled by ei­ther code staff or po­lice, sim­i­lar to the way cur­rent re­stric­tions on tall grass and noise are han­dled, and Bi­bro and com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Tom Zipfel said res­i­dents with a po­ten­tial prob­lem would re­ceive a warn­ing be­fore any ci­ta­tion or fine.

“We place the res­i­dent on no­tice, of a mat­ter that they need to at­tend to, cer­tainly well be­fore any ac­tion is taken,” Zipfel said.

The com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously Aug. 23 to ad­ver­tise the or­di­nance, and Bi­bro said the board could for­mally vote next month to adopt it — and said the town­ship will take what he called “a very rea­son­able ap­proach” with any of­fend­ers.

“We have a code en­force­ment of­fice which will al­ways send more of a headsup type no­tice, and give them am­ple time to fix this sit­u­a­tion, be­fore it goes any fur­ther,” he said.

In re­sponse to a res­i­dent ques­tion, the man­ager added that line-of-sight ques­tions near in­ter­sec­tions are al­ready ad­dressed in the town­ship code, so if a tree or other growth blocks a driver’s view of a cross street, they should con­tact town­ship staff or po­lice as soon as pos­si­ble.

“If some­one’s hav­ing a hard time get­ting out of an in­ter­sec­tion, they can call the ad­min­is­tra­tion and po­lice, and the po­lice will re­spond and send a note to the prop­erty owner to make sure they trim that back,” Bi­bro said.

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