City of Plattsburgh councilors approved a new law that will require property owners to keep their hedges off the sidewalk.
"This is one of the few things we can do to help," Councilor Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6), said at Thursday night's Common Council meeting.
"I think it is the right thing to do. Sidewalks are part of our infrastructure and are a means of transportation for the public, and they should be clear."
Jackson brought forth the law change earlier this year, saying there are areas in the city where hedges are so overgrown that they block most or all of some sidewalks.
He likened the situation to that in the winter when residents are required to shovel snow from the sidewalks in front of their properties.
Under the new law, if a hedge impedes a sidewalk, the property owner will be notified and given 30 days to take care of the problem. If it isn't done, the city will trim the hedge and send the owner a bill.
Andrew Pulrang, executive director of the North Country Center for Independence, told councilors Thursday night that his organization favors the new law.
He said people who use wheelchairs or scooters have trouble navigating blocked sidewalks, and those with visual impairments can have problems as well.
"It is inconvenient at best and injurious at worst," Pulrang said.
"It may be a small thing, but for people with disabilities, it can be insurmountable."
Councilor James Calnon (I-Ward 4) said he supported the change but could also see a reason for voting against it.
"Some of the worst encroachments are from some of the oldest hedges, and I am concerned that some of the most beautiful properties that are part of the character of our city could be sacrificed by this," Calnon said.
He said he hoped the Zoning Board of Appeals would consider variances for new hedges if some had to be replaced because of the law.
Councilor Timothy Carpenter (D-Ward 1) said he favored the law.
"It just saddens me that we have to enact a law for this. I wish people would just take care of it themselves."
The measure was unanimously approved.
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