Bamboo and Nuisance
Council is Proposing the addition of a “Bamboo Ordinance” (Section 124) to the Borough Code AND an Update to the Nuisance Section 123
Who will be affected by this ordinance?
Everyone who owns property in the Borough of Chester Heights.
Why a bamboo ordinance? Why Now?
The conversation about bamboo in The Borough started over 4 years ago (if not longer) when concerns were raised to council about the potential for road damage. During storms large swaths of bamboo would lay across Valleybrook Road and need to be cut with saws to clear the path for traffic. Over the years other concerns were raised by residents who own property in the Borough. A neighbor’s bamboo would spread onto adjacent properties causing damage to driveways with no recourse for the resident and no enforcement mechanism for the Borough to require proper bamboo management.
One could argue that the current Nuisance Ordinance ordinance (Borough Code Section 123) addresses bamboo under the current vegetation provision, but there is no provision to address bamboo issues neighbor to neighbor.
What’s new in Bamboo?
First we urge every resident to read the proposed ordinance. We are not lawyers, and this is not a legal opinion. The new ordinance adds section 124 and focuses on bamboo encroachment mostly onto public right of ways and stipulates that “Nothing in this Ordinance shall require the Borough to become involved in litigation between adjoining property owners. However, the requirements of this Ordinance may be cited in any private litigation between such individuals.”
The proposed ordinance also lays out restrictions on who is and isn’t considered a bamboo owner, defines buffers zones that MUST be kept clear of bamboo, the process for violation enforcement and puts in place a $300 per day fine if residents do not comply within the 30 days after they’ve been notified of a violation.
What else is changing?
Though all this started over bamboo the proposed ordinance makes significant changes to “Nuisance” Section 123.
Here are 5 changes we’ve noted:
Lawn must be kept to 6 inches. (section 123.1 (c))
Defines lawn as the area within 30ft of your home and the 20ft from a public right of way. (section 123.1(C) (1))
If a violation is considered sever the Inspections Officer can order them to be corrected WITHOUT NOTICE and then charge the property owner for costs incurred plus 10% WITHOUT NOTICE - Section 123.3(B),
Violation – the new ordinance removes the possibility of arrest AND adds $300 PER DAY after 30-day notice.
Trees, shrubbery, lawns, hedges that are “unsightly” are considered a violation.
We urge every resident to read the new ordinance and become familiar with it so that we can have a complete and productive conversation as a borough about how to strike a balance between borough safety and the rights of property owners. If you have question, the public hearing will take place on March 4th, 2019 at 7pm at the Borough Building.