"Talk about safety," Spence said, finding Groh guilty of a technical code violation. "What about that utility pole and that sign in the middle of the sidewalk? Mr. Groh didn't put those there."
Spence was looking at photographs introduced by William Nairn, an attorney for the city, and Groh's own photos, both of which showed the pole and the sign in the sidewalk.
Hagerstown City Engineer Bruce Johnston said in a telephone interview the utility pole and the sign have to be there - a sidewalk is a right of way and that's what a right of way is for, he said.
Johnston defended the issuance of the citation, saying the hedge has lots of trash and poison ivy in it.
"That hedge looks OK from a distance but not up close," Johnston said.
Groh testified he has cut the hedge back as far as he can and still keep it green.
"Every new administration tries to get it back further," Groh said from the witness stand. "Now I hear they want 61/2 feet."
Spence stopped Groh at that point, saying he'd heard no evidence from the city to that allegation.
The judge suggested to Groh that he attempt to trim the hedge enough to satisfy the current code requirements.
Spence warned Groh that the city of Hagerstown could cite him again for the same violation if he doesn't do something about the hedge.
"We're concerned about people wanting to visit Hagerstown," Spence said. "And I'm not sure a dead yew hedge will help that."
But Spence said he believes the utility pole and the sign are the primary hazards on that stretch of sidewalk.