Right-of-way landscaping – whose is it?

The small patch of landscaping – grass and generally one or more trees- between the sidewalk and the street is in the public right-of-way. It belongs neither to the property owner or to the Association. Trees must be trimmed periodically to provide clearance for people on the sidewalk and vehicles on the street. The developer-installed irrigation piping in the right-of-way is integral to the system of the owner of the adjacent property. Each of us de facto irrigates and maintains the grass – logical, we control this small area fronting our property and it’s cost effective for our community.

Now, what about the trees? That’s a confusing and, at times, controversial issue particularly when the trees impede access on the walkways and streets. Most trees were installed by GW Robinson, presumably as a County requirement to develop the site- generally selected and paid for by the original owner under the landscaping allowance of their purchase contract. Over the years, owners may have added trees on their own. Many owners treat the trees in the right-of-way as they treat the grass. Some trim them beautifully, many take good care of them,  some don’t think the trees are their responsibility. Whose are they? According to the Alachua County Unified Land Development Code, the Owners Association is responsible for trimming the trees.

The Association has mostly left that task to the owners and has not included it in the Association’s routine landscape maintenance contract. It’s become more of an issue now that many of the young trees planted under Phase II have grown and some are interfering with traffic. A few weeks ago, two owners reported clearance problems. The Board instructed Bosshardt to identify trees in right-of-way in need of trimming and to get an estimate from our landscape maintenance company. The Association will either take care of all problem trees in the coming weeks or will prioritize the most urgent work this year and budget the rest for next year. If you really value control over size and shape, you can keep on trimming yourself. If you decide to plant a tree, verify that it meets the County Code and won’t result in a clearance problem. If you are concerned about clearance under a tree located in the right-of-way, report it to Bosshardt. If you or a previous owner planted a tree not allowed by the County, you are responsible for removing it.