Plattsburgh is Hedging their Bets – on Sidewalks

It appears as though Plattsburgh City Councilor Paul O’Connell is stuck between a rock and a hard place.. In this case, it’s more like the Hedge covering the sidewalks in his ward.. Three weeks ago, about 85 letters were sent to homeowners reminding them about a law that requires them to trim their hedges back behind the sidewalks.. The Code Enforcement office has a picture for every hedge violation in the city according to this law and it’s a fairly large book.. The trouble is that some of these hedges are absolutely gorgeous and trimming them back in some cases could leave them looking a bit bare.. but if you don’t cut them back, then what do you do about the public sidewalks? At a public work-session on Thursday, Mayor Calnon says most of the easier fixes have been taken care of..  “But that leaves many that are the more difficult ones.” By difficult ones, the mayor is really referring to some in the book of pictures that have been there for more than 50 years, and in some cases they’re older than the public sidewalks.

AUDIO – 062714 – Plattsburgh Hedge Law

The City has attempted to fix some of those issues by extending the sidewalks rather than trimming the hedges but since then the hedges have taken over most of the extensions as well.. The Law requires the hedges to be trimmed back and admittedly, if enforced, it’s going to have a detrimental affect on the allure of the community.. which is where Councilman O’Connell comes in.. “It’s a difficult thing,” O’Connell said, “because there are some really nice hedges but you have to accommodate residents who are looking to make use of the sidewalks and it’s unfortunate but it’s a law.”During the Work-session, O’Connell proposed eliminating the law as an option but even that concept brought up the question of how do deal with residents who’ve already complied with the law and cut their hedges back… Mayor Calnon added that perhaps there may be a way to provide an incentive for homeowners with the larger and higher hedges to begin cutting them back… Either way, it’s going to take some time before the law can be fully enforced but one day in the near future, instead of a well groomed hedge in your neighbor’s yard, you may see more sidewalk and the branches lingering where the hedge once was..

Councilman Paul O'Connell poses with a pair of hedge shears, a present from Councilman Dale Dowdyl.

Councilman Paul O’Connell poses with a pair of hedge shears, a present from Councilman Dale Dowdyl.

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