Denver council asked to help residential issue

By on August 21, 2019

Two long-time residents told Denver council at their Aug. 12 meeting that an issue with a neighbor is at an impasse and asked what action council could take to assist.

The neighbor’s arborvitae trees, planted on the property line in the front yard, have created a wall of green, which extends over the property line into a neighbor’s property.

The arborvitae have created so much constant shade that it’s not possible to grow flowers anymore in the front yard, said the neighbor, who has resided there over 30 years. The owner of the trees has resided there a few years.

The neighbor shared Denver’s ordinance stating that hedges must be trimmed back to a height of three feet. She’s researched arborvitae and learned that if she trims the arborvitae encroaching on her property, it could kill the arborvitae. She asked council if the trees would die after she removed the parts on her property, then who would need to remove the dead trees.

Councilman Todd Steward said that the property maintenance code states the property owner is responsible for removing dead trees. He shared that it seems in this case the arborvitae function as a hedge.

Mike Hession, borough manager, said that arborvitae have been treated as trees and it would be prudent to go back and clarify aspects of the property code so that this and any other situation involving arborvitae are treated the same way.

Council members asked several questions, such as how many times the neighbor has talked to the tree owner about resolving the situation, whether arborvitae trees should be considered a fence if they’re planted to function like a fence or hedge, and what next steps should be taken.

The neighbor explained that previous discussions have never gone well and the situation needed to involve the police at times.

Another neighbor verified the lack of verbal civility, cooperation and explained several issues she’s had with the same neighbor in question.

Council agreed to put the issue on the Aug. 13 agenda for the Denver Planning Commission and encouraged the concerned neighbor to come to the meeting to explain the situation.

In the meantime, the neighbor was reassured that it was her right to remove the parts of the trees encroaching on her property.

Also on council’s agenda was a discussion with Marlin Martin, president, and Ruth Beamesderfer, secretary, of the Reinholds Ambulance Association.

Martin explained in 1989 there was a written agreement between Reamstown and Reinholds that the Turnpike would be the dividing line for service. Everything north of the Turnpike would use Reinholds as a first call and the remainder of the borough would use Reamstown.

Beamesderfer explained that when a call comes into 911 and the address is lit on the map, 911 knows which ambulance company to dispatch. If the ambulance normally receiving the first call for dispatch is on another call, then the next nearest ambulance would be dispatched. She said all the local ambulance associations work well together.

Martin explained Reinholds calls have increased each year. He cited 607 calls in 2017, and 648 in 2018.
Reinholds uses two, full-time paid staff to provide Monday through Friday coverage, and relies on 21 volunteers to fill in when possible during the week and to cover on weekends.

“We are a community ambulance and our goal is to keep costs low. The $50 per year per family covers you for the year. We will bill your insurance; you will not be billed,” said Martin.

Examples were given of when a person calls an ambulance for excessively high blood pressure. Martin said if the crew can check out and stabilize the person without any transport, no charges occur.

Martin said the ambulance association is always looking for good volunteers. “We do a lot of training and we start with where the person is. If people are interested, they should contact us.”

Council, on a different emergency service matter, approved appointing Roger Weir as the borough’s Emergency Management Coordinator pending completion of the state background check. The position’s been vacant for several years.

Alice Hummer is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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