Tall hedges a safety menace? Code-enforcement debate ramps up in Miami Springs

Before the pandemic hit, Miami Springs Mayor Maria Mitchell was tooling round on her bicycle when a neighbor’s automotive backed up and knocked her off the sidewalk.

“He hit me and knocked me off my bike and way into the swale, almost into the street,” Mitchell mentioned at Monday’s City Council assembly. “I hit my head and got a cut, needed stitches on my hand, and my bike was all mangled.”

After a trip to urgent care, Mitchell went after the culprit: the overgrown hedges that blocked her view.

Mitchell ordered a code enforcement squad to crack down on hedge violators, however efforts had been stayed final yr as a consequence of COVID-19 protocols, in addition to the abrupt closure of City Hall as a consequence of a fungus infestation.

However, Miami Springs City Hall has lately re-opened, and code groups have resumed issuing tickets, a measure that has riled locals, together with one who thinks Mitchell ought to thoughts her personal yard.

“You have a hedge in your front yard that is in violation, mayor,” mentioned Paul Hervis, a 22-year resident {and professional} landscaper. “The code says anything obstructing a sidewalk where there are roads and fences in alleys would have to come down.”

Hervis referred to Section 150-013 of Miami Springs’ code that states: “Residential plantings, fences and walls… shall be maintained so as not to constitute a safety hazard or visual clearance obstruction to pedestrians or vehicular traffic utilizing City sidewalks, swales, alleys, streets or other rights-of-way.”

“The mayor passed by our home today and said she is going to be a stickler on this,” mentioned Connie Maldonado, a venture supervisor, who additionally spoke at Monday’s assembly.

Maldonado lives two doorways down from Mitchell and mentioned she and her husband, Miguel Pita, obtained a quotation for violating part 150-013 of the code. The discover specified: “hedges constitute a safety hazard, obstruction – visual clearance.”

The metropolis additionally slapped Pita, who spoke at a prior council assembly, with a $100 fantastic, which they plan to enchantment at Tuesday’s code compliance assembly.

A public information request searching for copies of all city-issued hedge violations, since Jan. 1, is beneath assessment by metropolis officers.

“The code has to be enforced fairly and consistently,” mentioned Maldonado, who described a neighborhood that prides itself on its greenery. “If this is enforced city-wide, it will require a lot of enforcement activity.”

Miami Springs, initially referred to as Country Club Estates, is a 393-acre triangle positioned north of Miami International Airport that’s recognized for its stunning gardens, inexperienced house, and waterways, in response to Miami historian Paul George.

The metropolis modified its title, round 1926, to replicate a plethora of fresh-water springs beneath its floor that was key water supply into the ‘90s for much of the area.

In hopes of steering bicycles off sidewalks, Miami Springs received a $598,000 grant, in 2013, to expand its bike path network to connect its library, community center, swimming pool and ballpark. In 2016, the city received an additional $119,600 grant for more bike paths to provide alternatives to driving as well as connect to public transit routes and surrounding communities.

Hervis thinks Mitchell should use better judgment.

“It’s widespread sense, similar to checking to see if it’s clear whenever you journey your bicycle on the sidewalk or on the road,” Hervis mentioned.

At the top of Monday’s council assembly, Mitchell held up a photograph of an overgrown hedge and mentioned she is “digging in her heels” on the problem.

“We have a code in place, and it needs to be enforced,” Mitchell mentioned. “I could have been killed.”

The public is invited to hold forth on the scenario on the subsequent Miami Springs Code Compliance board assembly at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, at City Hall, 201 Westward Dr.

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