Newport: The hedge at 58th and Rhododendron has been modified to allow traffic sight distances as prescribed in the law.
A two and a half year dispute with 58th and Rhododendron resident Gregory Carpenter precipitated action by the city of Newport Wednesday to cut back Mr. Carpenter’s high hedge at his corner of the intersection. City officials say the hedge was on city-owned right of way and that it has a legal obligation to ensure that motorists and pedestrians moving through the intersection have adequate line-of-sight views of potential conflicting traffic.
City officials say Mr. Carpenter was told on a number of occasions to cut back the hedge under a compliance notice and eventual citation under the city codes. At one point Mr. Carpenter took the city to court and had the citation thrown out by the judge when then City Manager Jim Voetberg determined there was no visibility hazard at the intersection – a conclusion that still puzzles everyone to this day from the police chief on down. Mr. Voetberg recently resigned his post with the city and took a management job with a suburban Seattle water and sewer district.
In the meantime city officials re-grouped and consulted their attorney who advised them that because Mr. Carpenter’s hedge was occupying city-owned right of way, it does not have to seek any approval to restore the area to an appropriate condition – in this case eliminating undue line of sight restrictions at the intersection.
In addition to cutting back the hedge on city right of way, city crews trimmed limbs on sight-obstructing trees on city right of way property across the street to the west, as well as felling two sight-obstructing trees in the city right of way on the corner to the southwest.
The city’s code enforcement officer has long been tasked with the duty to inspect sight distances at problem intersections in Newport, which he reports that property owners are cooperative, including the one directly south of Mr. Carpenter whose hedge has been trimmed to avoid further action by the city.