Pittsburgh, PA asked in Municipal Law, Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Shade Tree Commission and Home Owner rights?

I am a home owner in a town that has a Shade Tree Commission. The commission prevents me from maintaining, removing, or planting trees in the strip of grass between the sidewalk and street in front of my property. Over the past 10 years I have invested in a retaining wall to beautify my property.

The sidewalk is now cracking and becoming raised in 1 section, and I am concerned that the retaining wall that is next to the sidewalk will begin to raise, crack, and/or shift.

Since the borrow has claimed responsibility for the trees, but will not maintain or remove them so that my property can be protected. Additionally, the borough review the sidewalk conditions and requires residents to repair sidewalks even if the damage is caused by the trees that we are unable to maintain.

My question is this. Do I have a case if the borough comes to me to repair the sidewalk and I refuse on the basis of the trees causing the problem and I have no option to mitigate prior to becoming a problem?

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
  • Wyomissing, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: The problem is to get around this you'd have to file some expensive and time consuming legal proceedings that would cost more than the sidewalk bill. If you want to repair the sidewalk you need to get the boro to clear it--and take care of any roots.

Remember--the boro is elected. Get enough people in a boro meeting and apply pressure on the tree commission and you should be able to work out a change in their practices.

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