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Unlawful vegetation amendments proposed

(12/13) The Carroll Valley Borough Council is proposing changes to the existing unlawful vegetation section of the municipal regulations regarding tree and plants in the borough.

The purpose of the changes is to clarify cutting undergrowth where it is is occurring on vacant lots or into public right-of-ways.

Borough Manager David Hazlett told the News Journal the revisions were made because, "We felt the existing version was ambiguous in its regulation, and the ordinance was amended to clarify its intent."

"The existing code referenced the health of occupants of a neighboring property, and of potential fire hazards. This was being interpreted to cause vacant property owners to maintain their property in a way contrary to which would permit a natural forest ecosystem to exist," he stated.

The existing unlawful vegetation rules prohibit any vegetative growth, including trees, hedges, bushes and shrubbery, within five feet of the edge of a roadway.

The proposed rule in this regard allows for vegetative growth within five feet of a roadway, and thus within the right-of-way, if that growth does not exceed 12 inches in height. Vegetative growth within the right-of-way may not however interfere with vehicular or pedestrian use of that right-of-way, or interferes with drainage.

Regarding the current regulations concerning the growth of noxious weeds (as defined by state Noxious Weed Control Law), conditions of impact, such as "creating a clear and convincing nuisance or health hazard to the occupants of a neighboring property…" will be struck, and replaced with a less verbose, general prohibition forbidding the presence of such growth, period.

The borough also proposes to strike references to the accrual of "trash, garbage and debris" on properties which could pose a fire hazard from the regulations which otherwise only regulate unlawful vegetation.

Concerning vegetative growth on developed properties, the rules applicable to these sites will essentially remain unchanged, as will the sections concerning removing the nuisance growth, enforcement, and penalties.

The borough Council voted at their December 10 meeting to authorize town staff to advertise the proposed changes for possible adoption at the board’s January 14 meeting.

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