Property owners asked to trim shrubs, trees for drivers

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Obstructed views at intersections can pose a safety hazard as well as a liability to property owners if an accident happens. Photo by Mickey Alvarado.

City officials have noticed a growing problem throughout the community that they hope residents might be able to take care of themselves, once they realize what’s occurring.

“It’s an obstructed view issue, and it’s really a safety issue,” said Tecumseh Building Department Director Brad Raymond, who also serves as the city’s code enforcement officer.

Raymond said areas of particular concern involve overgrowth of landscaping elements that violate a section of the city ordinance on corner clearance in the triangular areas at intersections.

“The problem is, as people approach the intersection, the overgrowth obstructs their view of traffic or even people walking or riding their bikes down the sidewalk,” Raymond said, adding that the ordinance limits such things as shrubbery or fencing to two-feet in that area.

“People may not realize what the ordinance says about that,” he added.

Section 98-522 on Corner Clearance reads: “No fence, wall, shrubbery, sign or other obstruction to vision above a height of two feet from the established sidewalk grades shall be permitted within the triangular area forming the intersection of the following vehicle areas. Canopy trees may be located in the corner clearance area provided that the first branch is a minimum of 8 feet above grade level.

Street intersections. The intersection of any street right-of-way lines by a straight line drawn between the right-of-way line at a distance along each line of 15 feet from their point of intersection.

Non-residential driveways. The triangular area formed at this intersection of any non-residential driveway and a street right-of-way line at a distance along each line of 15 feet from the point of intersection between the driveway and the right-of-way.

Residential driveways. The triangular area formed at the intersection of any residential driveway and a street right-of-way line at a distance along each line of ten feet from the point of intersection between the driveway and the right-of-way.”

Raymond said sometimes residents will plant trees or shrubs between neighboring properties rather than put in fencing and will bring it too close to the sidewalk, or they plant arborvitae, which make good screening, but can block the view.

“Sometimes people will initially comply by planting shrubs that are only two feet tall like the ordinance says, but they’ll let them grow and then they begin to obstruct the view,” he said.

There is also concern about shrubs, trees, fences and other obstructions along driveways.

“People will go to back out of their driveway and not only is their view of the street obstructed, they can’t see someone walking or biking down the sidewalk, or a kid on a tricycle and it becomes a liability issue for them,” said Raymond. When he was working in Romulus, he recalled having to give a deposition in a case where a youngster on a tricycle had been hit in a situation like that.

Raymond said that he is currently monitoring the situation, and will receive some help in identifying problem areas by the city’s meter readers.

“We just would like people to know that while we are notifying property owners of situations that could be a safety concern, we also would like them to check and maintain these areas on their own,” said Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch.

Raymond said not everyone realizes they are violating the ordinance, and it’s often a matter of working with the public to educate them.

“Usually when we notify property owners of an area of concern, they’re very willing to comply,” he said, adding that violation notices are sent with a timeline to remedy the problem.

“It really is a safety issue for traffic, and there is also a lot of biking and walking in Tecumseh,” Raymond said. “We just need to address this before it gets too bad or someone gets injured.”




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