I live in Matthews. I am considering new landscaping for my home, but I want to make sure I don’t run afoul of any laws or ordinances. Does the Town of Matthews have any rules I need to check? What happens if I already planted something in violation of them?
– Green Thumb
Yes, the Town of Matthews has an extensive ordinance that governs trees, shrubs and how to properly maintain them. The intent of this ordinance is to ensure that uniform standards are applied throughout the town to maintain safety and avoid nuisances, both public and private. The ordinance also explains what happens when the rules are violated, and what actions the town can take. You can obtain a copy of the ordinance by contacting the office of the Town Manager.
Let’s address your question about landscaping violations with a hypothetical. Assume you planted a tree one foot from the property line with your neighbor. You would be in violation of Section 99.12 of the ordinance which states, in part:
“The minimum distance to the nearest property line or public right-of-way for planting shall be six (6) feet for large trees and three (3) feet for small trees.”
Regardless of the size of your tree, it would need to be planted at least three feet from the property line. Your neighbor would have the right to object to the fact that it was planted only a foot away.
But there are certain procedures that have to be observed on your neighbor’s part as well. A resident who has an issue with a violation of the tree ordinance should inform the town. If there is a violation, the town will then notify the offending resident. The notice shall set forth the nature of the violation, as well as the required remedy and time period to come into compliance with the ordinance. Except in certain emergency situations (not likely present in your case), the requirements of the tree ordinance have to be followed.
Bear in mind that there may be other rules which govern your particular situation. This is especially the case if you live in a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association. Under an HOA, your property is subject to restrictive covenants as well as other rules and procedures. To avoid a repeat of any such incidents in the future, be sure to get your copy of the tree ordinance. You can also ask the staff at the Town Manager’s office if they have any other suggestions which could help you with future landscaping.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice, nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Jennifer L. Fleet or Weaver | Budd, Attorneys at Law. Submit your questions for The Fine Print to: firstname.lastname@example.org