What's Wrong With This Picture?

August 05, 2012
  • Low-hanging branches are shown along part of a sidewalk on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown.
Photo by Andrew Schotz

HAGERSTOWN — The problem: Low-hanging branches prevent people from walking along part of a sidewalk on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown, between Oak Hill Avenue and The Terrace, according to reader Jerry King.

King lives in Falling Waters, W.Va., but said he goes to the Hagerstown YMCA every day and walks in the neighborhood four times a week, including along this stretch of road.

He wrote in an email that the branches force pedestrians “to walk out into Northern Ave. and risk getting run over .... I have watched one of our local disabled senior citizens have a problem getting under the bush in his wheelchair after a rainstorm, which causes the bush branches to be (even) lower.”

Who can fix it: The city of Hagerstown can call it a code violation and require a nearby property owner to correct it, which happened in this case, when The Herald-Mail asked the city about the branches.

What they say: Gary C. Lambert, programs manager for Hagerstown’s Planning and Code Administration Division, wrote in an email:
“A notice of violation has been mailed to the owner of the property, requiring that they trim the overhanging branches to a minimum height of 15’ above Northern Ave. The City of Hagerstown Property Maintenance Code, section 302.4.3, states that ‘It shall be unlawful for any person to suffer or permit the limbs or foliage of any tree or shrub on his property to extend over any public sidewalk or pedestrian right-of-way at a height of less than 7 feet from the ground or over a street or alley at a height less than 15 feet.’ They will be given a short but reasonable amount of time to comply and will be subject to a fine if they fail to act. Additionally, should they not act, the city will have a contractor trim the branch with the costs billed to the property owner.”

— Compiled by Andrew Schotz

If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:
What’s Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown MD 21740
You can email the information to Please include a phone number where we can reach you.

Editor’s note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation. We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes, or consumer problems.

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