The Twisted Twig

Fall 2017: Planting Season - Tree Lawns and Right of Ways

By Roger DeGood - Guest Columnist

It’s starting to get cold and our trees are ready to go to sleep for a few months. Believe it or not it’s planting season Well, for trees anyway.

Fall is the optimum time to put new material in the ground so when spring hits, they will be off and running. Properly planted and hydrated trees do a lot of growing, root wise, in the fall and early winter months before the ground turns to our seasonal version of permafrost. In the fall, since the tree does not have to support leaf retention, they can spend time re-creating the roots that were cut off when our buddy, the nurseryman, dug, balled and burlapped the specimens.

As for the Village annual plantings, sites were selected in the spring, species chosen, ordered and tagged out. Most of the new selections are destined to go into the tree lawns where there either are no trees, trees were removed or there are gaps that need to be filled in. Our Master Plan tells us what goes where and final cultivars are chosen based on local soil types, location hardiness and design elements.

So what is this tree lawn anyway and why is its importance to me the property owner? Typically the tree lawn is considered the space between the sidewalk and the curb on most city streets. This coincides somewhat with what is called the Right of Way (ROW). ROW is sort of a no man’s land between the inside edge of the sidewalk and the curb. It is in this ROW where most if not all of the public utilities are located such as overhead power and communication lines, underground sewers, potable water mains and natural gas lines. As per the State of Ohio Revised Code, the trees planted there are also part of the public utilities.

You see, even though the property owner owns the property all the way to the curb and is required to mow and maintain the ROW, the Village has control of its use including access to the utilities and trees planted there. Since the Village has charge of the care and feeding of the trees there, anything planted there comes under their control. Therefore, residents are requested not to plant anything in the ROW.

We understand that this was done in the past and with the good intent of beautifying the resident’s property but it’s good to realize that anything planted there actuality becomes the property of the village. If, for instance, there is a utility malfunction and an underground repair is necessary, the Village is not responsible to replace that lovely crab apple that got planted in memory of a beloved family member. It also means that because the Village has a Master Plan, the resident does not have control of what kind of tree gets re-planted there.

This doesn’t mean that the Village will be coming around and tearing out all owner planted trees and bushes. It only means that if they die, become diseased, or interfere with other public utilities, the Village will remove and not replace them.

There are many streets in the Village that do not have curbs and sidewalks. There is still an ROW on the frontages that usually is about 10 feet back from the pavement edge. If you plan on doing anything in that area, it is best to contact the Village before proceeding.

For our readers that are outside the Village limits, your property might be one that is unplatted where the owner’s description extended to the centerline of the roadway. In this case the ROW may be more in the form of an easement. Planting and use in this type of situation is governed by what is called the “authority having jurisdiction (AHJ)” which might be the township government. Its always best to contact the AHJ, whether it’s village or township before proceeding.

In the case of ROWs and easements, it’s always better (and cheaper) to seek out guidance and permission first rather than pleading for forgiveness after the fact.

Should you have questions and need assistance, call the Village Offices at 419-826-9515 on how to contact a Tree Commissioner near you and visit the Brochure Bank at Village Hall for more information .
Fall 2017: Planting Season – Tree Lawns and Right of Ways

By Roger DeGood

Guest Columnist