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When trees or bushes obstruct traffic views or the right of way, whom can I call to report it?

Lydia Coutre

MyReporter had two similar questions:

What is the shrub height permitted for driveway and parking lot entrances so the view is not obstructed. Please also advise if this is an city, county, or state ordinance along with the contact name/phone or email address to report a violation.


In the city of Wilmington, if trees or bushes located on private property have grown in such a way that they are now partially obstructing the sidewalk, who is responsible for cutting them back?  If the property owner is responsible and does not comply, what should one do next?

A. Depending on if you’re in the city or county, there are different rules.

Dylan Lee, spokesman for the city of Wilmington, writes: “In the city, you need a clear ‘sight triangle’ that extends 20 feet back from the right of way and is 70 feet to the left or right of the driveway line where the driveway meets the road. Within these triangles, no landscaping, signage or other visual obstruction is permitted between the heights of 30 inches and 10 feet.”

New Hanover County’s Zoning Ordinance Section 61.1 says: “On a corner lot in any residential district, nothing shall be erected, placed, planted or allowed to grow in such a manner as materially to impede vision between a height of three (3) and ten (10) feet above the finished grades of the intersecting streets in the area bounded by the street rights-of-way of such corner lots and a line joining points along said streets rights-of-way fifty (50) feet from the point of intersection.”

In Wilmington, the property owner is responsible for trees or bushes that have grown to the point that they are partially obstructing the sidewalk.

If that property owner doesn’t comply or there are other violations, call city code enforcement at 910-341-3266.

In New Hanover County, overgrown trees or shrubs on private property obstructing a sidewalk might be considered a public nuisance, in which case the complaint can be directed to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at 910-798-4200, according to Mark Boyer, spokesman for the county.

According to New Hanover County’s Zoning Ordinance Section 100-2, if a zoning official finds the ordinance is being violated, he or she is to notify in writing the person responsible for that violation indicating the violation and how to correct it.

“He shall order discontinuance of illegal use of land, buildings, or structures; removal of illegal buildings or structures or of additions, alterations, or structural changes thereto; discontinuance of any illegal work being done or shall take any other action authorized by this Ordinance to insure compliance with or to prevent violation of its provisions,” the ordinance states.



Why can I not cut down a tree on my own property if my lot is over 2 acres?

If a tree in my yard reaches into my neighbors’ yard, who is responsible for trimming that part of the tree?

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