By Sam Bigham
In a 5-2 vote, Crafton councilmembers provided a period of accommodation to a homeowner who did not want to trim his hedges instead of enforcing a borough ordinance.
The hedges surrounding the residence on 1960 Crafton Blvd. were found to be in violation of a borough ordinance.
Specifically, the hedges at the corner of Johnston Street and Crafton Boulevard significantly obstruct the vision of motorists.
At a recent zoning board hearing, the homeowner, who was not named during the borough meeting, pleaded his case to keep the hedges intact, citing the family’s desire for privacy.
The alternative that the zoning board proposed to the council was to turn Johnston Street into a one-way road going north toward Morton Street. While the zoning board has the final say, they have asked Crafton Borough to decide if they want to work with the homeowner or want to enforce the ordinance requiring the hedges to be removed.
To make Johnston Street a one-way, the homeowner must commission a traffic study, have that study reviewed by Gateway Engineers, collect signatures from 90% of residents living on Johnston, Morton and Harrison streets along with those living on the nearby section of N. Emily and pay for any other associated costs. Council will then make a final decision if the homeowner can produce the necessary study and signatures.
The councilors discussed the merits of this decision at length. Council Vice President, Kirsten Compitello argued for setting the signature threshold to 90%, citing her worry that “this is a decision that some could make fairly lightly.”
The council agreed to her proposal.
Council members Vincent Ridilla and Compitello expressed their support for giving the property owner a chance and allowing the people in the area to make the decision.
Council President John Oliverio and member John Marks did not believe that the borough should accommodate the homeowner’s request, signified by their no votes on the motion.
Oliverio said this is “not the best choice,” to make “for a resident who won’t cut their hedges.”
“This all seems like a lot of theater… for what I would think is pretty simple for someone to take care of,” Marks said, adding “I had to spend three evenings trimming up to 15 feet clearance and I hated every second of it… but it was required of me.”
“I love privacy, but I would trim them if I had to.”
Justin Marks voted no, hoping that “the zoning board would do the safe and right thing” and enforce the ordinance to remove the hedges.
Since the Borough council passed the motion, no decision will be made on enforcing the ordinance or changing Johnston Street to one-way until the end of October deadline passes.
Google Maps shows Johnston Street as a one-way road toward Morton Street, meaning many people driving through the area could already treat it as such.
If the ordinance is ultimately enforced, the homeowner has the right to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.
Borough Manager Jim Price had proposed that the homeowner move the hedges back from the road, but that suggestion was declined.